Libyan Hearts

26 Jun 2018

Libyan Hearts

A multimedia story by Abel Kavanagh.

“Thank God the surgery was successful. We have been waiting 7 months for it” says Khalil's father while giving a kiss to his two and a half years old son who just underwent a cardiac surgery.

In that same hall stands Khadija’s mother, Nahed, who is worried about the risk of the operation but she’s fully aware that this might be the only chance to save her one year old daughter.

Many other parents came, with their children, from all around Libya to the Tajoura Cardiac Clinic. Here, the Novick Cardiac Alliance has been conducting pediatric surgeries since the 3rd of June.

This is the 6th year that Dr. William Novick has conducted pediatric cardiac surgery in Libya, treating 700 children from across the country in Benghazi, Tobruk and now Tripoli.

Watch short documentary:

The relief on Zainab's face reverberates throughout the hallways, her baby was in the echography test room and will be included on the operation list. However, Dr. Hanifa - the chief of the Pediatric Cardiac Department at Tripoli children hospital - warns her about the risks: “you have 65-70% chance that the operation might succeed, 30-35% it doesn't”.

“In Libya, there are several thousand children that need heart surgery, including hundreds of new-borns”, says Dr. Novick.

That is why, with the support of the Presidency Council and the UN’s World Health Organization, Dr. Novick has launched a one-year national program, hoping to treat more than 400 Libyan children’s hearts.

As most of the international medical staff working in Libyan hospitals have left the country since 2011, these operations offer an opportunity to Libyan heart surgeons, nurses, perfusionists and other medical professionals to work with an international team and acquire the needed skills to operate independently in the future.

Dr Wejdan Daoud Abu Amer, a pediatric Cardiac surgeon in Libyan hospitals for over a decade, explains: “I am glad to be part of the national team working for the children with congenital heart defects, God willing, we can cover as many as possible. We try to save the lives of children that can't wait long for an operation and it's a really great feeling”.

Immerse yourself in the operation room via this 360 video:

During his visit to the Tajoura Cardiac clinic, Dr Jaffar Hussein - head of World Health Organization in Libya - underlined the United Nations’ commitment to continue providing and funding heart surgeries for Libyan children.

After a successful operation, Khadija is now recovering in the intensive care unit. Khalil went back home with his relieved parents to Garhyan, 80 kilometers South of Tripoli. Before leaving the hospital, Khalil’s father was talking with other parents near the echography room and expressed his wish that God unites the Libyan people and bridges their hearts closer.

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