Changing quality of life for Syrian refugees with cardio procedure and training

By Dr. Moeen Saleem, April 2019

We had an MVP today.

Before I joined the MedGlobal medical mission in #Lebanon, Dr. Marwan Refaat consulted on a 6-year-old boy who had a pacemaker placed due to a slow heartbeat. The boy’s heartbeat was the result of surgery for a congenital heart defect. Hearts beat around 100,000 per day, 60 times per minute, 60 minutes per hour, 24 hours. That is a lot of work for a machine to handle and requires maintenance. The battery on his pacemaker was due for replacement, but his family was unable to afford it.

Ideally, pacemakers have two wires; one for the top part of the heart and one for the bottom part of the heart. They keep the top and bottom parts of the heart in sync. The child’s pacemaker only had one wire, which is the minimum to maintain a heartbeat. Why are two wires be better than one? In this situation, having one wire is like running with a cast. It can be done but is not very inefficient.

Today, we had the privilege of having Dr. Sami Chaouki from Northwestern Memorial, a Pediatric Cardiac ‘electrical’ specialist being on our team. He successfully changed the pacemaker for a new device and added a second wire, thereby providing a more in sync heartbeat. In other words, the child could now run with two legs, no cast.

During the procedure, we insert wires into a vein in the leg and then thread them to the heart. Then we remove the wires and put pressure on the vein to control bleeding. After the procedure, patients must lay flat for several hours. Dr. Kousik Krishnan taught a local physician in training how to insert a special collagen plug into a vein to reduce bedrest time from several hours to only two hours.

Why does this matter? It dramatically shortens the recovery from a procedure. The sooner a patient can be mobilized after a procedure the better. The less likely they are to form blood clots or suffer bleeding after the wires are removed. The sooner they can go home.

At the end of the day I said, “Sami, you’re the MVP. You didn’t just change a battery. You changed a life.” Education and humanitarian efforts are in MedGlobal’s mission statement.

Patients are happy and thanks to Cardiva Medical’s donation, we could help shorten procedural recovery safely.

This ain’t no Airbnb. When we plan a family vacation, we often look for a home to rent with nice amenities, a good location, and the number of guests that can be accommodated. Refugees do not get to choose fancy amenities and location requirements are simply to be far away from the violence of war.

Tents will sleep as many as can fit into a 6×8 space. Kids play in areas where there are exposed electrical wires. Fire hazards and risks of injury are real but at least there aren’t any bombs. And it is not uncommon to notice there are not many men 20-30 years old. They are lost because from war, either killed or are in prison.

I am honored to serve on a team full of unselfish people who travel to make a difference in the lives of people who are suffering. Simple because of the circumstances of being born in one part of the world instead of another.

Please support MedGlobal’s life-changing medical missions to Lebanon. Donate or volunteer today!