Thursday, September 2, 2004

7-year-old Iraqi patient
out of Children's Hospital

By Tim Bonfield
Enquirer staff writer

Host family member Marian Tarvin, of Anderson Twp, comforts Fatma Saad Abdulaziz on her last day at Children's Hospital Wednesday afternoon.
(Steven M. Herppich/The Enquirer)
CORRYVILLE - A 7-year-old girl from Iraq who had open-heart surgery last week left Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center Wednesday with two wagons in tow - one filled with belongings, the other with boxes of medicine.

Fatma Saad Abdulaziz is expected to spend at least five more weeks living with a family in Anderson Township as she receives antibiotic treatment for a lingering cardiac infection.

The slender girl with short, curly black hair clung to a yellow stuffed duck and to her host parents as she braved three television cameras, a newspaper photographer, reporters and a collection of hospital staff during her first official press conference. Fatma, who has learned only a few words of English, smiled several times but mostly appeared overwhelmed by all the attention.

"She's feeling a little homesick," said her host mother, Marian Tarvin. "She's been gone from her home (a village outside Baghdad) for 61/2 weeks."

Medically, she's "doing great," said Dr. Pirooz Eghtesady, a cardiac surgeon who assisted in the operation performed last week.

Fatma needed surgery to repair a congenital hole in her heart and to begin treatment of a serious heart infection.

She came to the United States after her father brought her to a U.S. military base outside Baghdad, where an Army physician's assistant, 2nd Lt. Todd Wilson, worked with the Shevet Achim charity organization to arrange her travel and treatment.

Fatma is traveling with an aunt and a cardiologist from Iraq but hasn't been able to talk directly with her family since coming to the United States. She has learned some English.

Her first two words were "no pain," which she told a doctor this week while he was examining her abdomen.

"She also tells me she loves me, and I tell her that I love her," Dick Tarvin said.

In the next few weeks, plans call for taking Fatma to see the Labor Day fireworks, the zoo and the aquarium.

"The only thing she's seen of the United States is the inside of a hospital," Tarvin said.


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