Riley International Heart Missions

August 2019 Riley/Rotary Vocational Training Team Trip to Amman with Chain of Hope, GOLA, and Veterans Rebuilding Life- Final Mission Day!

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Hawra, our 16 month old Kurdish boy had his operation today by Dr. Turrentine 2 days ago. The beautiful child is sponsored by a group called Veteran’s Restoring Lives. He was extubated after surgery but developed lung complications as a result of so much (now a normal amount) of blood flow going to his lungs. Because of his age and his low saturations his lungs have become accustomed to low blood flow and that was dramatically changed by surgery.  With some time on the ventilator his lungs improved and he was extubated this morning and we are confident he will be able to breath on his own now. 

Dr. Turrentine feeling relieved that Harwa has turned the corner.

Batoul moved to the floor and is doing great. She will have her chest tube removed and be discharged tomorrow. 

Sireen had another good night. She is definitely on the mend now. She is taking full nutrition now and should be moved to the floor tomorrow.

Mouhammad with Sireen.

Qasem had another great night. He is continuing to breast feed and we are decreasing breathing support steadily so he should move to the floor later today or tomorrow. 

Qasem headed down to the floor and out of the ICU!

Jouri is in great spirits most of the time but is still in intermittent heart block after her operation but it is improved and Dr. Bassam wants to wait another day before deciding whether to place a pacemaker. 

Mira will be discharged today. Terrific news for her as we were concerned at one point she might need a procedure to drain fluid from around her heart. 

Jana continues to cruise after surgery to fix the large hole between the bottom two chambers of her heart. She went to the floor yesterday and will be discharged tomorrow.

Jana getting a soccer ball after her chest tube came out. 

Mazin, Zainalabideen and Sewar will all be discharged today as well. Great to see so many kids on the mend and headed home before we wrap the mission and head back home.

The team with Mazen. 

Open heart surgery two days ago…now soccer in the hallway with the team. 

Sewar ready for discharge.

Abdel Qader needs one more day in the hospital before heading home tomorrow. 

Thanks to GOLA for the photo of Abdel Qader!

The team got to experience the Dead Sea Friday afternoon after morning rounds at the hospital. It was an incredible experience for 5 of us who have never been there before. 

We are refreshed and ready for the last case of the mission, Talia. She is 10 months old with Down syndrome, a PDA and large ASD with poor weight gain. The case was off a little late, but finished in the morning without complication. It is a holiday here and we are thankful the hospital staff is here to support the patients on this final day. 

Thanks again to GOLA for the OR pic including Dr. Johansen (who never included himself all week!) from Talia’s surgery.

Tomorrow we begin the long journey home after another successful and rewarding mission.  We are again grateful for the patients we serve, Dr. Kal for his friendship and collaboration, the hospital and hospital staff, Na’el and Ruba, all of GOLA, Chain of Hope, Veterans Restoring Lives, Rotary Clubs of Indiana and of Jordan, Rotary International, all of our amazing hosts, the city, and the region for making us feel so welcomed.

The entire staff at Al Khalidi has been tremendous. 

Until the next mission.  Insha Allah.

Written by stephkinnaman

August 31, 2019 at 7:58 pm

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August 2019 Riley/Rotary Vocational Training Team Trip to Amman with Chain of Hope, GOLA, and Veterans Rebuilding Life- Working Day 5 (Thursday)!

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Hawra, our 16 month old Kurdish boy had his operation today by Dr. Turrentine.  The child is sponsored by a group called Veteran’s Restoring Lives.  The diagnosis was uncertain when he arrived and, after a few tests, it became more clear that his operation would be a challenge. Performing his repair in multiple steps was considered but was ultimately decided that it could safely be performed in one operation. This was done today and the result is as good of a scenario as anyone could hope for for this family.  It should allow him to live the rest of his life without the need for another heart surgery.

Dr. Turrentine giving some refreshing water to Hawra. 

Batoul is 2 years old and had a large hole between the top two chambers of her heart closed today. The operation was a success and she is recovering well in the ICU.

Sireen had another good night. We are decreasing her breathing support today and starting to give her better nutrition today. 

Sireen and her mother.

Qasem had a great night. He is starting to breast feed and we are decreasing breathing support.  

Dr. De Jesus apparently does not have the magic touch with Qasem.

Jouri is still in intermittent heart block after her operation but it is improved and Dr. Bassam wants to wait a bit longer before deciding whether to place a pacemaker. 

The team is happy but Jouri is not about having her chest tubes out. 

Mira is doing much better. Her mother has noticed a major improvement. Her lungs need to open up some, so we brought a trick from home to the Middle East.

Mira blowing bubbles. 

Jana is cruising after surgery to fix the large hole between the bottom two chambers of her heart. She was at high risk for a difficult first night after surgery but did not have any problems. 

Jana with Dr. Yabrodi sharing some gifts from home. 

Mazin has chest tubes pulled today and will probably be discharged tomorrow. We are so happy for this boy and his father that his recovery has been swift. 

Zainalabideen needs one more day for his chest tube to drain, but it should pulled tomorrow.

Zainalabideen with Dr. De Jesus and his Riley soccer ball.

Abdel Qader is making life easy for the team after surgery. She was agitated for several hours after her surgery but had been the perfect patient since then.

If Abdel Qader is well behaved then Sewar is simply showing off. She doesn’t know she had open heart surgery yesterday. 

Sewar the showoff!

Friday is a weekend day in Jordan so the team will get some much needed rest before finishing off the mission on Saturday and heading for home the following day. 

Written by stephkinnaman

August 29, 2019 at 11:41 pm

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August 2019 Riley/Rotary Vocational Training Team Trip to Amman with Chain of Hope, GOLA, and Veterans Rebuilding Life- Working Day 4

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From Dr. Johansen Wednesday… I waited for pictures to come, but he just responded that they won’t send. We can add later perhaps when the team returns (for future reference… 😉):

For really the first day, things have been stable. We were able to remove the breathing tube on Sireen first thing this morning when we came in to round. Some of our kids are moving through the unit and others should be moving to the floor soon.

Sireen had her breathing tube removed and we are slowly decreasing her breathing support. No more seizures and finally she is stable. 

Sewar is a one and a half year-old beautiful Jordanian girl with a hole between her bottom two chambers and a hole between her top two chambers. Both of these were closed successfully and, as you can see by the picture, she is doing very well in the ICU.

Mazen should be discharged tomorrow. He has been very stoic but was appreciative to receive some gifts today.

Ferial is a Pakistani girl who had removal of a tissue growth below her aortic valve. She did very well and should be discharged soon.

Zainalabideen has been very brave. He’s been breathing easily and will go out of the ICU tomorrow.

Jouri’s heart rhythm is improving. We’ll keep checking it everyday to determine if or when she’ll need a pacemaker. 

AbdulQater has recovered  so well after surgery yesterday that it’s hard to believe he had a major operation just 24 hours ago. He should move out of the ICU tomorrow and be home in the next few days.

Qasem continues to make slow, steady progress. We are decreasing the amount of breathing support we are giving him, he is starting to eat better and hopefully on the road to complete recovery.

Mira has some fluid around her heart that is slowly improving. 

Nermin was discharged today. Maybe that’s all it took for her to give us at least part of a smile.

Another Full day of operations tomorrow before a short break Friday, the start of the weekend in Jordan. Tomorrow’s first patient may be our most difficult of the mission. Hopeful for an uneventful update tomorrow.

Written by stephkinnaman

August 29, 2019 at 11:28 pm

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August 2019 Riley/Rotary Vocational Training Team Trip to Amman with Chain of Hope, GOLA, and Veterans Rebuilding Life- Working Day 3

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From Dr. Johansen today… more pictures to come… busy busy day for our team and some technical difficulties with photo transmission over the miles… 😉:

“Our day was off to a busy start with Sireen having a few problems overnight and then another seizure this morning. She was stabilized this morning and is now comfortable on the ventilator. She has some fluid on her right lung that we hope to get rid of without needing to change her chest tube. 

Qasem was extubated today. We are hopeful he is on the road to a steady recovery without setbacks. 

Qasem with his father

Mira is still in the ICU but will likely transfer out tomorrow. 

As you can see from the look on her face, Mira is still having a hard time trusting us!

Mazean is doing extremely well and transferred to the floor today about 16 hours after his heart surgery!

Zainalabideen is an 8 year old boy from Iraq with a history of transposition of the great arteries and a narrowing of his aorta. He had surgery as an infant and then again at a few months of age.  He was found recently to also have a large whole between the top chambers of his heart and a narrowing above his pulmonary valve. Dr. Turrentine closed this today and patched the area above his valve but also found a whole in part of the pulmonary valve, which he also fixed. 

Zainalabideen’s father with Dr. Turrentine and Dr. Kasten. 

Mazean’s and Zainalabideen’s father at the bedside today. 

Hawra arrived from Iraq today. Hawra is 16 months old with a history of tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia. He traveled by air today and his intervention is sponsored by Veteran’s Rebuilding Life. He arrived very blue with oxygen levels very low. He will require additional workup so that a plan can be made for surgery. 

Hawra very blue from extremely low oxygen levels

Abdel Qader is 11 months old with a hole between the bottom two chambers and a growth of tissue beneath one heart valve causing a blockage.  This was relieved by Dr. Turrentine today and she was breathing on her own when we left the hospital. 

Abdel Qader playful before surgery.

We are well settled into the mission at this point, tired but proud of the entire team’s effort, including the Al Khalidi staff who we’ve been working alongside at a taxing pace. Our numerous hosts continue to support and make us feel like family more than 6,000 miles from home. ”

A sample of the hospitality of our magnificent hosts

Written by stephkinnaman

August 28, 2019 at 3:24 am

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August 2019 Riley/Rotary Vocational Training Team Trip to Amman with Chain of Hope, GOLA, and Veterans Rebuilding Life- Working Day 2

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From Dr. Johansen today:

While the rest of the team rounded in the ICU, the OR team got off to a great start first thing this morning with Qasem, a 7 month old Syrian boy with Tetralogy of Fallot (a hole between the bottom two chambers, a narrowed pulmonary valve, thick heart muscle and a misaligned aorta). Dr. Turrentine was able to perform a type of operation that should allow Qasem to live the rest of his life without the need for another surgery. This is fortunate because many kids with this type of heart defect require multiple surgeries throughout their life.

Qasem before his surgery. 

Dr. Turrentine and Dr. Kasten starting first thing this morning. 

Our second patient was Mazean, an 11 year old Iraqi boy with a large VSD and a significant narrowing below his pulmonary valve.  His father told us the story of how he ended up in Amman with our team for the operation. His heart defect was not discovered until he was several years of age. He was told his child needed surgery, but was reluctant to take help from others and it was difficult to find someone to take on his case. He was connected with a woman who directed him to Dr. Aso, a pediatric cardiologist in Iraq, who is a friend of both Chain of Hope and Gift of Life. Dr. Also referred him to Dr. Kal and this mission. His father told us that he had lost two previous sons in their teenage years and he was very concerned that he would lose another son during the heart operation.  As you can see he was very grateful to Dr. Turrentine for performing his surgery without complication. 

Mazean’s father with Amy and Dr. Turrentine. 

Mazean’s father showing his gratitude and respect for Dr. Turrentine’s skill. 

The first patient from yesterday, Nermin, was able to go to the floor. The team plans to pull her chest tube tomorrow and she will likely be discharged the following day.  Dr. Kal’s cath patient, Mustafa, was the first of the mission to be discharged from the hospital today.

Sireen had a minor setback today, suffering a seizure this afternoon and requiring her breathing tube to be put back in place. She had some testing done that was all normal, and we hope to pull the breathing tube tomorrow.  The team does not believe it will cause any permanent problems. 

Mira, Dr. Bassam’s second patient yesterday, had a good day. She is being treated with antibiotics for a possible infection, but she was feeling well enough to receive a bag full of goodies from Amy. 

Amy with Mira

Jouri’s heart rhythm is improving. The team will decide over the next few days if a pacemaker is needed.

The team has completed as many of more open heart cases in 2 days as would normally be done in a week back home.  It is exhausting and rewarding work that we are grateful and humbled to take part in. 

Na’el displaying many of our great partners!

Written by stephkinnaman

August 26, 2019 at 11:31 pm

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August 2019 Riley/Rotary Vocational Training Team Trip to Amman with Chain of Hope, GOLA, and Veterans Rebuilding Life- Working Day 1.

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The first case was started around 9 AM today. Two rooms were running this morning as Dr. Bassam was operating in a second OR.  

Dr. Turrentine’s first case is Nerin, a 2 year old Palestinian girl with a large secundum ASD.  The case went well and she was breathing on her own not long after surgery.  


Sweet Niren resting up for her surgery. 

OR team at work first thing in the morning. 

Niren resting comfortably after her surgery.

Jouri is a beautiful 10 month old Jordanian with a large VSD and ASD who was Dr. Bassam’s first case. She is doing very well, breathing on her own and is using a pacemaker because of a heart rhythm problem after surgery, which we hope will improve over the next several days. 

Jouri looks ready for her surgery. 

Jouri taking a bottle just a few hours after her surgery. 

Sireen is a 6 month old Jordanian girl with a large VSD and small opening between the top two chambers of the heart.  The operation was a success and when we left the hospital for the evening she was breathing on her own.  


Sireen in preop before her surgery by Dr. Turrentine. 

Dr. Yabrodi and Dr. DeJesus caring for Sireen before getting the breathing tube out

Mira is a 4 year old Jordanian girl seen here with her supportive brother. She was the second case for Dr. Bassam, born with a large ASD.  The case started a little later in the day but was smooth and we anticipate no problems overnight. 

Mira with her brother.

Mustafa is a 15 month old Syrian girl with a history of a PDA, an opening between the main body artery and the artery that goes to the lungs. Dr. Kal was able to close this using a device in the cardiac Cath Lab, so he did not require an operation.

Whew. That’s one day down and 5 children with congenital heart disease treated through the generosity of so many people and the partnership between wonderful organizations and providers on multiple continents.  We are grateful to be a part of this mission. 

Adyan is a young Iraqi girl who Dr. T had operated on previously. She was born without pulmonary arteries and these were reconstructed and encouraged to grow by receiving blood flow from a tube off of the aorta to the reconstructed blood vessels. She was brought to the US in 2015 for another operation and has been doing very well. Today, she had her regular checkup with Dr. Kal.

Mom Nour, Adyan and her twin sister Rnad with Dr. T! Look how big Adyan is now with her mended heart!! ❤️

Written by stephkinnaman

August 25, 2019 at 8:04 pm

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August 2019 Riley/Rotary Vocational Training Team Trip to Amman with Chain of Hope, GOLA, and Veterans Rebuilding Life!

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A full Riley Team is back in Amman and ready to carry the torch for the 3rd Vocational Training Team Trip on this current generous Rotary International VTT Global Grant… paired with some “old friends” and a “new” one! We again team up with our wonderful hosts in Gift of Life Amman and our like-minded amazing partners Chain of Hope (working with us for 6 years now thanks to the introduction by CEO of Gift of Life International Rob Raylman!). We also have a new fabulous partner for this mission covering some of the children’s surgery expenses in Veterans Rebuilding Life! Riley Hospital press did a great job introducing this collaboration with our newer partner in particular in their article about this trip… We have to thank one of our oldest Gift of Life Amman founding members, Marikay Satryano, for continuing to work with the Riley team and putting them together with this wonderful effort. She is truly an inspiration in every way. Info about this new collaboration… I hope this link works:

https://www.rileychildrens.org/connections/heart-surgeon-spends-his-vacations-healing-children

We also have some new faces on the team this trip:

Dr. Michael Kasten, assistant surgeon

Dr. Nicole DeJesus- Brugman, Pediatrician, Intensive Care Fellow

Amy DeHeer, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, ICU nurse

Dr. Kasten, Dr. Yabrodi, Dr. Dejesus, and Amy, NP

Of course, we also have some seasoned Veteran Team members as well:

Dr. Mark Turrentine, Team Leader, Surgeon

Dr. Michael Johansen, Pediatric Cardiologist

Dr. Mouhammad Yabrodi, Pediatric Intensive Care Specialist

Dr. Johansen will send me updates and pics and I will do my best to put it all together from back here in the States! Today, he sent me this when they settled in to their hotel:

“A long 24 hours of travel finds us finally back at the hotel.  These ICU beds won’t be empty for long. We learned today during preparations that our post-op team will be supporting mission cases performed by a local surgeon as well as the cases that Dr. Turrentine will be performing. We’ll need to get some good rest tonight before the week officially starts tomorrow. ”

Heading in to Al Khalidi Hospital to make mission plans!

The whole team in Al Khalidi with GOLA President Na’el Musharbash and his wife, our wonderful friend Ruba, the untiring Dr. Khaled Salaymeh, and GOLA friends!

Prayers appreciated for a wonderful mission for these amazing people and the sweet children on the schedule to have their “Gift of Life” this week!

Written by stephkinnaman

August 24, 2019 at 9:34 pm

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