Riley International Heart Missions

Amman Riley/Rotary VTT Trip #4 with Chain of Hope

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(Original post by Dr. Johansen on Aug 28th on

I haven’t been posting because I’ve been having some difficulty with connectivity. I won’t be able to share any photos for the time being, which is unfortunate because that’s the part that really allows you to see and feel the lives we are touching and to put a face to the wonderful team and hosts we are working with.

Saturday was a busy day. Our first case was a four-month-old with TAPVR. Dr. Mohammed was a great help. The second case went well, a child with dextrocardia and coarctation of the aorta. They both kept Dr. Riad and Sheila very busy. Lina Barghouthi was a gracious and wonderful host for dinner at her house with other Jordan Rotarians and members and supporters of the Chain of Hope. After dinner was a trip back to the hospital to check on our postop patients. Dr. Riad spent the night at the hospital, but we hope to get him some rest and relief tomorrow.

Sunday was another busy day at the hospital. The first case was a very ill 2 1/2 year-old with tetralogy of Fallot and pulmonary atresia who had oxygen saturations that were very low (around 40%). Dr. Mark placed a patch below her pulmonary valve and opened the pulmonary valve up some. Her saturations came up to almost normal! Her aunt said “you changed her in a moment!” She will need future surgery but is feeling much better than previously. Our previous postoperative patients are progressing, though one remains critically ill. Back at it early tomorrow for a difficult case in a child with severe mitral stenosis and pulmonary hypertension.

Dr. T and Emma from Chain of Hope High Five a previous patient in Dr. Kal’s clinic!

Little Hani

Na’el- president of GOLA (Gift of Life Amman), Dr. Mohammad, Dr. Mark, our patient and her father, Rob- CEO of Gift of Life International, and a wonderful Al Khalidi ICU Nurse!

I’ve added pics and captions best I can from Indiana while Dr. Johansen deals with tech issues in Amman… Update from Dr. T as of Tuesday, August 29th is that 10 cases are already completed! Two more operating days for this busy mission…  Two more complicated cases completed today and went well…  Praying for a smooth transition in the ICU overnight  for the patients and Al Khalidi staff and that our team rests well…

Written by stephkinnaman

August 30, 2017 at 1:53 am

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Amman Riley/Rotary VTT Trip #4 with Chain of Hope

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(Original post by Dr. Johansen on August 25th on

Dr. T performed two PDA ligations today while the rest of the team was still en route. Ruba and Na’el from GOL Amman graciously picked us up at the airport and got us to the hotel. Dr. Khal took us all out for some kanafeh to be sure we would have the nourishment required for tomorrow’s two cases, slated to be a 4 month old with TAPVR and a newborn coarctation. Sounds like it will be a busy week. We are grateful for the opportunity to help these children and for the collaboration and friendship this work brings.

Dr. Riad and Dr. Rania come straight to the hospital from the airport to check on the first patients!


Written by stephkinnaman

August 30, 2017 at 1:43 am

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Amman Riley/Rotary VTT Trip#4 with Chain of Hope!

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(Original post by Dr. Johansen on Thursday, Aug 24th on

Dr. T is already in Amman and rumor is there are 3 cases on for tomorrow. Our team is looking pretty bright eyed. Not sure we’ll feel the same way when we join the rest of the medical team in Amman tomorrow after a long overnight flight, but we are looking forward to getting the work started.
Dr. Michael Johansen (Peds Cardiology), Dr. Rania Abbasi (Peds Anesthesia), ICU Nurse Sheila Rocchio, and Dr. Riad Lutfi (Peds Intensivist)

Written by stephkinnaman

August 30, 2017 at 1:37 am

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Riley/Rotary Vocational Training Team with Chain of Hope Mission- Amman, March 2017- Final Day!

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It was a late night for the team…  Packing up for the travel home this morning for most of the team and reflecting on an emotional and exhausting and yet successful week here.  This Riley team puts their heart and soul into these missions and wants to make everyone proud of this life-changing and life-saving work.  We might wear our “hearts on our sleeves” a little more by this time of the week and often tears flow to leave these beautiful kids who touched our hearts forever…

Dr. Anne, Dr. Riad, Sheila, And Mike left together Friday morning and Katy from COH left for London a little earlier.

Dr. Mark has one of the last lectures of the day at the conference today.  We rounded on all the kids this morning before attending the conference.  They all look just amazing!

Eyad continues to improve and will likely go to the floor soon.

Rama looks good.  Will start feedings today.

Lamar’s sats are better.  Her parents are soooo sweet…  but she is still a little scared of us if we get too close!

Osama is doing great.  His mom wanted to snap all kinds of pictures with us this morning…  🙂

Sulakshi looks amazing!  Up walking about!  Smiling more as well!

Hawra’a looks great.  Up and about on the floor as well.

Miasar is looking good on the floor also!

Dr. Mark met up with a team from Sulamaniyah from the Kurdish region of Iraq at the conference .  He knew them from a visit there before…

Dr. Mark did a great talk about the Global Burden of Congenital Heart Disease and discussed the team’s work through missions in three very different parts of the world with different challenges in tackling CHD- Amman, Beijing, and Kampala, Uganda.  Very well done! I’m told Dr. Anne and Dr. Riad’s talks were quite the highlight yesterday as well!

Conference attendees at the end of the day.

We made one more trip through the ICU and Dr. Kal took this great pic with the ICU team and the two little ones in the ICU- Rama and Eyad!
Cannot stress enough how honored we all are to finish this incredibly successful week of 14 surgeries and 1 cath on our Adyan!  It is such a privilege to be welcomed to Al Khalidi to transfer skills with this receptive and hardworking team…  It is such a privilege to be welcomed to Amman to work collaboratively with the Amman Rotarians and GOLA… And it is such a privilege to help these beautiful children in any way we can!

Thanks to all who make this work possible- Chain of Hope, GOLA, Rotary D6560 Gift of Life (Indiana), Rotary International, Rotary Club of Greenfield, Rotary Club of Amman-Petra, Rotary D6560, other Rotary Clubs of Amman and D2452, Riley Hospital for Children, Al Khalidi Hospital, all the donors, and of course our families!  We are so honored to represent you all!

Until next time, “INSHALLAH”!

Written by stephkinnaman

March 12, 2017 at 2:56 am

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Riley/Rotary Vocational Training Team with Chain of Hope Mission- Amman, March 2017- Day 7!

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We had a busy night of catching up with old and new GOLA friends! Another wonderful night of celebrating with our partners Wednesday’s 200th child helped by our partnerships!

Thursday we added on 2 more cases.  One adult congenital heart disease patient for Chain of Hope, and a tiny 6 month old with a PDA.  Dr. Riad and Dr. Anne gave two lectures each at the Annual Pediatric Review Conference hosted by Dr. Kal, so today was a different kind of “busy”!

We rounded on our ICU patients before going to the OR…Ruqayya was still on the vent, later successfully extubated and is doing so much better!

Osama is doing well in the ICU as well…

Lamar from Iraq is looking better and sats are up to the 70’s%, which is what we hope for…

Eyad is doing well, better overall.  

Sulashki is doing very well also.  She moved to the floor later that day.

Miasar is in the floor, doing great!

Marwa is looking better and will go home!   🙂

Hawra’a moved to the floor I believe that day as well.  The amazing thing about this sweet girl is that her pulmonary arteries have already doubled in size!  This is amazing great news for her!  A girl who was told she was inoperable…  🙂

These amazing pictures of super cute Yousef are thanks to Katy from Chain of Hope…  He has gone home!

This morning’s case was an adult male with a huge ASD.  Laith was born with this problem, but is now 29 yrs old and is Short of breath with any exertion and cannot lay flat at night.  He is at risk for a stroke with this large ASD as well.  Chain of Hope has agreed to cover one adult congenital case per mission, so he was an add-on today.  Dr.  Mohammad had gone home to Saudi Arabia for work, so I scrubbed in to assist with this huge, heavy heart compared to what we had been working with all week!  He is from Karuk and is here with his brother.  His case went very well and he was transferred to the ICU. 

The next case is a tiny little girl, Rama.  She is 6 months old with Pierre Robin Syndrome.  She had a very pale and almost gray color to her before surgery.  She has a cleft palate which needs repaired as well, so has to take her feedings via NG tube.  She is so sweet!  She has a Patent Ductus Arteriosus, PDA.  She is failing to grow well from that , so could use that closed.  It is not an open heart case and should be an “easy” add-on.  However, it wasn’t so easy.  The PDA was hard to access from the normal incision.  Her anatomy was just “different”, making it more difficult to access.  Dr. Mark was slow and steady and of course successfully located the PDA.  I didn’t get a preop picture…

We then checked on everyone in the ICU. Sheila was busy with all the new post-op patients and Dr. Riad and Dr. Anne were lecturing at the conference.  We got all the instruments accounted for and in the right cases to pack for home. Little Rama was successfully extubated once Dr. Riad came back from his lectures.  We then went out with Na’el and Ruba for dinner to celebrate an incredibly full and successful week!  14 cases and one cath by this team in 7 days!!  Dr. Mark and Dr. Anne went to dinner with the speakers from the conference while the rest of us were going out with Ruba and Na’el.  We were going to celebrate the March birthdays, but poor Katy was feeling a little under the weather. So, we let Katy blow out her candles at the hotel and then Ruba did it at the restaurant…

Everyone has worked so very hard this week!  It has been a FANTASTIC mission highlighting the work over 10 years between these growing partnerships with the busiest week in 10 years, 20 missions.  So much of you all to be proud of!!!

Written by stephkinnaman

March 11, 2017 at 7:02 pm

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Riley/Rotary Vocational Training Team with Chain of Hope Mission- Amman, March 2017- Day 6

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We had a wonderful evening last night with all of our GOLA friends and Rotarians and GOLA supporters…  a few more lovely pictures to share now…

What a lovely evening honoring the work GOLA has done and prepares do for the little hearts!

Unfortunately, during this uplifting evening, Dr. Riad and later Sheila went to the ICU as little Khaled (the Czech mission’s patient on peritoneal dialysis) was really taking a terrible turn for the worst.  His family felt he had been through enough already…  All the family came in and he sweetly opened his eyes and smiled one last time to his family before he later passed away in the night.  So very very sad…

This morning, we rounded quickly in the ICU…  Ruqayya (AV Canal defect) was still on the vent and looking comfortable.  Treating with some meds to try to help get her off the vent soon…

Miasar looks great!  Awake and alert this morning!

Harwa’a’s sats are coming up a little more and she was awake and alert this morning also… 

Love this!

Eyad looks like he is kicking back and relaxing!  

Sulakshi looks much better today and her mom was smiling.  Much improved!  Of course, she is not even 24 hours since her surgery!

We headed to the OR to start fairly early.  It was before 9 when we started the case!
While we got started on the morning case, Dr. Anne and Sheila and Dr. Kal saw the patients on the floor…

Yousef will be discharged today!  He seemed to like this picture of himself that Katy had on her phone…

Hasan, our first case of the mission, will go home as well.

Muntathar will go home as well!  All are doing great!

Mwar needs to get up some more today and get around, then she will likely go home tomorrow as well.

Little Osamah is a 4 year old boy from Iraq with Tetralogy of Fallot.  His case goes well and we had him back up to the ICU before noon!

Dr. Riad and Sheila have been working with Ruqayya again on her vent settings and heart rate and blood pressures…  They have been hopping all week!!

Dr. Anne messaged that an old friend was in Dr.Kal’s clinic, so we headed over to find little Farrah!  She was just a baby on the first mission when she was first operated and then came back in a year for her completion Fontan.  She is now 12 years old, has 12 brothers and sisters, and is doing great!  She greeted each of us with a handshake and kiss on each cheek and the most beautiful smile!

That was a lovely reunion for Dr. Mark and Dr. Anne!

They were ready in the OR again after a quick look at the kids in the ICU…

Lamar is a 2 year old beautiful little girl from Iraq.  She is sooooo cyanotic!  Room air sats are about 60%.  Preop TEE was going to help decide the operative plan for this complex heart problem…  She has a hypolastic tricuspid valve (or tricuspid atresia) and RV which may have needed a Glenn shunt.  TEE helped to see it all better and a plan was made for a Right Ventricular Outflow patch.  However, Dr. Mark was not convinced at the end of that repair on TEE that it was quite how things needed to be…  So, he then did a Left-sided Glenn shunt as well.  Oxygen sats vastly improved (80’s room air).  She will still need another surgery later down the road…

This beautiful little Lamar is the Riley Team’s 200th case here in Amman at Al Khalidi!!!  How perfect that she is wearing a darling little dress sent from the US by a founder of GOLA, Marikay Satryano!  It is a special trip here indeed, marking this team’s 20th trip, 10 year Anniversary, and now the 200th case!

She was transferred to the ICU and we had a late lunch about 4…  Adyan was here again today for a cath as well.  Dr. Kal did a balloon angioplasty of her right pulmonary artery to get more blood flowing to the lungs…  

Another cath followed by Dr. Kal that he wanted consultation with Dr. Anne and Dr. Mark as well…  Considerations for a future mission.

Riad has shared some Riley Critical Care Walk-a-thon shirts with the wonderful ICU nurses.

Possibly a case tomorrow while many of the team will be speakers at Dr. Kal’s Pediatric Annual Conference.  Dr. Mohammad is flying back home to Saudi Arabia tonight and will be on call for the weekend, poor guy!

Tonight, we will meet with some old friends and founding Board Members of GOLA before possibly our final day of operating….

It has indeed been a momentous day!

Written by stephkinnaman

March 8, 2017 at 1:56 pm

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Riley/Rotary Vocational Training Team with Chain of Hope Mission- Amman, March 2017- Day 5

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Another big day today in Amman!  We met up with Matt Cook, president of Riley Hospital for Children and Dr. Elaine Cox, Infectious Disease specialist and Co-Administrator Riley’s CV Services last night…  Then, after we had a very late dinner, Rob Raylman, CEO of Gift of Life International, happened to come down to the hotel lounge/restaurant as well!  The gang is all here now!

We had our usual breakfast, but joined by Rob and Katy this morning and then headed to the hospital.  Dr. Kal said it was a quiet night, which is great!

The team rounded on the kids in the ICU and I’m told all were doing well.  I was waiting on our visitors in the lobby of Al Khalidi, so I missed rounds and morning pictures…

The Chain of Hope sponsored children from Iraq arrived late last night.  Katy brought them from the airport and checked them in to the hospital. 

They met us in the ICU for echos with Dr. Anne and for the team to meet them all.  They are just adorable!  Osama is 4 yrs old and has Tetralogy of Fallot.

  Lamar is a 14 month old girl with tricuspid atresia, VSD, pulmonary stenosis who will need a Glenn procedure.  Everything looked ok on echo for surgery tomorrow as planned, thankfully!

We made it down to the OR for first first case.  Eyad is a sweet little “blueberry”…  :). Such a sweet 9 month old Syrian boy who has super complex heart disease and is obviously cyanotic (hence the “blueberry” comment, stolen from Dr. Anne) with sats in the 70’s%.  He was stented twice by cath in the PDA/PA to try to continue to allow mixing of the blood to get some blood oxygenated…  his Right ventricle is hypoplastic (small), the tricuspid valve leading into it is hypoplastic, and multiple other lesions (HRV, HTV, multiple ASDs, VPS, PDA- with stent).  After checking some things in the operating room, Dr. Mark decided to do a Hemi Fontan which will create more mixing of blood.  This makes the next stage some 1-2 yrs later the completion Fontan and finally separates circuits for the venous and arterial blood…  One of the things I love most about these trips (besides seeing the amazing, life-changing surgeries for these wonderful families!!!) is to learn…  I’ve had more time the last couple days to “read up” on these complex lesions and the repair a little more thanks to wifi in the OR (thanks Mo!!! 😊). I hope that has added a little more for the non-Cardiology people like me reading the blog!

Things went well and we had multiple special visitors watching!  Dr. Cox and Matt Cook joined in on the fun!  And Hannan is back in the OR!  Yay!  Issam and the other scrub nurses have been absolutely fabulous, but we probably have the most history over the years with Hannan.

Matt and Elaine on the right while Amjad is circulating sporting his Riley scrub hat on the left.  Perfect!  “Mumtaz”!

Eyad was moved to the ICU.  He needed to be extubated as soon as he woke up because he appeared to have a good leak around his ET tube…  Poor Sheila, as if she wasn’t busy enough, was holding the ET tube in just the right spot to keep his sats reasonable until he woke up enough to extubate.  We learned when we went up to the ICU that little Ruqayya did not tolerate extubation this morning and was pretty quickly reintubated.  She is stabilized now back on the vent.

Hawra’a, the central shunt twin girl from yesterday is doing  well and posed for a sweet picture with Dr. Riad!

Sheila was busy this morning handing out more Riley tattoos before her “shift” even started caring for the patients!  They are a HUGE hit with the men and women! She has been bringing special Riley bags and goodies every day for the staff and patients!

When we came up from surgery, little Shadi from the Syrian refugee camp came for a visit after his clinic check with Dr. Kal.  He was a tiny little guy in September when the Riley/Rotary team operated on him and Chain of Hope arranged for his care. (See the blog by Dr. Anne in September 2016). He has grown so much since the team last saw him!  Amazing!

Claude (seen lower left in the above picture) is such a blessing to us and so many of these patients!  He has helped with access to the camps (to visit Shadi and Basel in November), to get the Iraqi families their visas, and helps arrange food at lunch often for the hardworking team!  Thank you, Claude!

We headed back down to the OR for the second case of the day.  Sulakshi is a sweet 6 yr old girl from Sri Lanka who had Tetralogy of Fallot/ absent pulmonary valve and was operated at 3 months of age by Dr. Mark in Amman.  She now has some pulmonary insufficiency and a dilated right ventricle.  So, Dr. Mark and Dr. Mohammad did a pulmonary valve replacement with a Contegra and Pulmonary arterioplasty… Takes a little longer as a “redo”….  and finding the right size Contegra for this sweet little gal required some discussions as well.  Complex stuff going on today!!!

Between TEE and taking Dr. Cox and Matt around as well as consults with Dr. Kal, Anne found the time to see Harwa’a awake!  She’s so adorable!

And Muntathar is up walking and transferred to the floor!

And Mwar is walking…

Sheila and Riad were busy with getting the new patients from the OR stabilized and insisted on staying while the rest of us went on to get ready for the GOLA Fundraising Gala.  They somehow got in and ready in such a short time and we all were all ON TIME for the event!  Wow!  

It was a lovely night sponsored by COH.  Na’el and Rob both spoke eloquently about the importance of this 10th anniversary of our team’s missions and the importance of GOLA in the lives of 360 children since its inception well over 10 years ago!  The organization has had many vibrant leaders through the years, but the goal remains the same- to help these little hearts!  Jood from our November mission was a special speaker as well as another Jordanian boy Dr. Bassam operated.  

Well done, Ruba and Na’el and all of GOLA!  What a fun night! 

Written by stephkinnaman

March 7, 2017 at 7:31 am

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