A surprise journey through a series of astonishing firsts brings together a remarkable collaboration that saves Elina’s Life.
Taking on the Challenge
When Elina (AKA Alyeen) was discovered by our friends at a refugee camp over a year ago, her condition was critical. Elina suffered from an extremely complex heart defect that was becoming more severe with each passing day. After being admitted to the local hospital to await her fait, it was clear that time was running out, and her chances of survival were increasingly slim. Our team at Love Them All immediately took action to explore every possible avenue for treatment. We consulted with medical experts, reached out to hospitals and healthcare organizations, and sought out any resources we could find. But despite our best efforts, each option we explored ended up becoming a closed door. It seemed like there was no way to save Elina’s life.
A Series of Miracles
As hundreds of mothers and fathers do each day, we grappled with the thought of letting Elina go. But we pressed on and continued to share Elina’s story. It was then that we received a call that changed everything. It was a call that we weren’t expecting. The call came from a friend who informed us that a government hospital in Bologna, Italy, was willing to take on Elina’s case despite the challenge and perform her surgery. Even more astonishing was that the local government of that hospital would bear the entire cost of her treatment. This was exceptional for the government of Bologna, who had never before handled a case from the northern region of Iraq and entirely covered the cost under such circumstances. We were left stunned, to say the least.
However, the journey was far from over as Elina’s critical condition made it impossible for her to travel on a standard commercial flight. We needed a second miracle. We needed to secure a fully staffed medical flight, a flight that would cost almost as much as the surgery itself. As we communicated the situation, many who were in Italy continued to advocate for Elina’s rescue and word spread. To our absolute amazement, a few days later, we received a call from the surgeon in Bologna, informing us that the Italian army would provide a fully staffed medical flight at their cost to take Elina to Italy. We later came to learn that this was another first, something the Italian army had never done before.
The Consul General’s Unprecedented Gesture
It was decided then. Elina would embark on a journey to Italy. However, we urgently required visas for both Elina and her mother. After presenting our circumstances to the Italian Consulate, we received a call from the Italian Consul General himself, offering to do something unprecedented. Despite being scheduled to close the following day, the Italian consulate would open its doors exclusively for us. So it was, in just two hours upon arrival the next day, we received their visas, and had the privilege of meeting the medical commander of the Italian army with his medical staff.
A Successful Surgery
Within days Elina was transported by ambulance to the Airport where she was transferred directly to her medical flight. When Elina arrived in Italy, at first glance, the doctors didn’t know if she was still alive. Realizing that she was, they quickly rallied to stabilize her and begin her four hour long open heart surgery where they performed the Glenn procedure and gave her a pacemaker. We were told from her medical team that had she arrived one day later it would have likely cost her life. Elina’s surgery surpassed expectations and upon completion, her surgeon exclaimed, “She is more than perfect!”.
A Grateful Mother
We couldn’t have asked for more from everyone involved, during and after surgery. We could see the qualify of care extend not just to Elina but to Elina’s mother who was being transformed by the simple but sacrificial care and love from everyone involved. Extra effort was put into making sure Elina’s mother had everything she needed and that she had time with Elina. We simply could not have asked for a more caring team.
The News Spreads
Many of the local news outlets began to hear and share Elina’s story, one calling it an “exceptional humanitarian coordination“ It was awe-inspiring for everyone to witness the doors that were opened for Elina and the numerous miracles that took place to save her life.
Simply put, everyone who participated went above and beyond. A heartfelt thank you goes out to the many who were involved. We thank Dr. Aso and his team at the Jamal Ahmad Kids Hospital for the fight they put up on Elina’s behalf, for all those who advocated for Elina’s care both locally and abroad, the medical team at the Sant’Orsola Polyclinic for their best in class treatment and care, the Italian Army’s ITA-PECC of COVI for their incredible support, the Italian Consulate for fast resolution and all of our new friends in Italy, each a vital part of this incredible effort that saved Elina’s life.