Thursday, August 26, 2004

Iraqi girl's open-heart surgery called a success

By Tim Bonfield
Enquirer staff writer

CORRYVILLE - The 41/2 hours of open-heart surgery performed Wednesday for an 8-year-old girl from Iraq was declared a success.

Fatma Saad Abdulaziz was brought to Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center last week after months of effort for treatment of a life-threatening heart defect and infection. In early May, her father had brought her to a U.S. military base outside Baghdad seeking help.

"Things went very well," said Dr. Peter Manning, director of cardiothoracic surgery at Children's, who led the surgical team.

Fatma, whose name is pronounced "Fatima," was listed in serious condition Wednesday in the hospital's cardiac intensive care unit.

Fatma is expected to stay with a host family in Anderson Township for six to eight weeks while undergoing intravenous antibiotic treatment for her heart infection.

The biggest concern for Fatma is that the infection also appears to have affected blood vessels in her lungs, Manning said. It may take months to know if her lung problems will heal. If they are permanent, she could face more heart problems later in life.

Fatma's care was made possible mostly through the efforts of 2nd Lt. Todd Wilson, a physician's assistant with the Army's 1st Infantry Division in Iraq, who worked with a charity organization to get her to the United States.

Wilson was informed Wednesday by e-mail about the success of the operation. His reply to Manning:

"I will be praying for her quick and event-free recovery," he wrote.

"I cannot thank you and Cincinnati Children's enough for your compassion and acceptance."

Wilson, of Charleston, W.Va., also wrote that he is scheduled to return on leave to the United States in late September. He wrote that he hopes to travel to Cincinnati to visit Fatma.



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