April 10, 2008

Hope and Humans.

Written yesterday:

I thought of Adriana today.

I was contacted in the morning by the head of the Hillah doctors' association about helping a 13-year old Iraqi girl who was involved in a road accident and is now paralyzed. Without urgent medical attention, her prognosis is that she will suffer permanent paralysis and be a quadriplegic. Adequate medical care is not available in Hillah nor, it turned out, even in Baghdad. Those hospitals don't have the a surgical capabilities to deal with the spinal fractures she suffered.

We in the PRT were grounded today in anticipation that there might have been a resurgence of violence. Last evening Moqtada al-Sadr called off today's planned Million Man March on Baghdad, and some people were expecting the south-central provinces to be the stage for Sadr's followers to take to the streets. That left PRT staff with no outside activities scheduled. That was fortunate, because when I learned about this case, I asked my staff to start working on getting the young girl to Baghdad, not knowing then that even Baghdad did not have the required facilities. Well, everyone from the security offices in Hillah and Baghdad and a major contractor's physician's assistant in Hillah, to the Locally Engaged Staff, contract employees, FSOs (Foreign Service Officers) and the Third Infantry Division staff, all got behind the effort throughout the day. You would have thought that I put up the Hope Diamond as a prize!

After lots of hard work through the course of the day all the elements seemed to come together. I signed off on a memo this evening to the Chargé to have a formal request made so that this little girl will fly out of our compound tomorrow to a U.S. military medical facility north of Baghdad. Tragically, her Mom died today of injuries sustained in the same road accident. There are a few poignant ironies in all of this which give our help extra meaning, but that will have to await another day.

On reflection, it became apparent to me why so many people threw themselves into this effort with such gusto -- arranging in one day a medical helo, translating, scanning and transmitting medical records, working the phones, getting approvals, coordinating with the Hillah hospital and the family, arranging for ambulance transport, arranging for an accompanying nurse -- a PRT Civil Affairs officer who also has a teenage girl back in the US -- and lining up some media coverage. (After all, if we are going to do all this for a 13-year old girl, for whom the USG has no responsibility, there is no reason to keep that news under a rock.)

The reason for this humanitarian surge, perhaps, is that amidst all the death and destruction and occasional despair in and around our little corner of Iraq, the chance to save a little girl from permanent paralysis gave everyone a sense of promise and purpose. It is the antidote of hope to the horrors of war, and it just made everyone feel good. Between 6-7am Thursday morning we should know if we have a green light, and when that little girl flies out of here, she'll carry with her the hopes of more people than she'll ever know.

1 comment:

rjdahlke2008 said...

Thanks for your entry today, Ken. I've added your blog to my Favorites. I'll hope for good news on Adriana as morning dawns in Iraq. Thanks for your efforts in communicating with those of us far from you. Your writings add meaning, purpose to my daily work.

Kind regards from Warsaw,

Bob Dahlke