MedGlobal’s Cardio mission to Lebanon

Dr. Anu Shivaraju

“Let me share with you a story that will hopefully give you a glimpse into the dire circumstances these refugees face. Fatima, a 41 year old woman who is a Syrian refugee residing in Lebanon. She has been married for 22 yrs and has been trying to conceive for the last 20 years. She finally gave birth to her child a year ago. After being unemployed for many years her husband finally got permission to work in Lebanon and got a job 3 days ago where he works all day. Fatima has been having chest pains for the last several months. She presented to a hospital 3 months back with chest pain and was told she had a “heart attack” (damage to her heart muscle) thought to be due to a blocked artery that supplies blood to her heart muscle. They recommended that she get a cardiac catheterization procedure to look at the arteries that supply blood to her heart. She could not afford this procedure and therefore she did not get it.

She was excited when she heard about MedGlobal’s Cardio mission to Lebanon. We did her coronary angiogram this evening and she had very tight blockages in her main two arteries that supply blood to her heart muscle. We all wished the we could have put a stent to open up the blockage, but her disease was so extensive that her best option is an open heart surgery (CABG). Her next problem is dealing with being able to afford her open heart surgery, which will cost her $10,000. UNHCR will often help subsidize 75% of the cost and the refugees will need to pay the other 25%, which in this case would be $2500. These refugees cannot even afford to buy needed medications that are worth just a few dollars let alone pay for an expensive surgery. So, they often opt to take their chances with fate. Fatima is on borrowed time.

MedGlobal is blessed to have generous donors who allowed us to provide care for people like Fatima and because of your generosity we will be able to pay for the rest of her surgical cost. I hope that she gets to spend many years with her son and watch him grow up. I will keep you all posted on her surgery and progress.” “Omar Jobe was our honorary guest in Lebanon. He was representing Boston Scientific, a medical device company who have been insanely generous with their copious donations of wires, catheters, balloons and stents for these Cardiac missions we have been going on over the last several years. Thanks to their generosity we have been able to treat hundreds of refugees with significant coronary artery disease over the last several years. Omar Jobe and Julie Puljic Soldo have played such an integral part in making this happen.

Omar was born to Gambian parents and can speak 5 languages. He went to the University of Wisconsin and got his PhD in Physiology and his MBA in Marketing. Did I also mention that he went to medical school and did a fellowship in Cardiology? Impressive!

Our paths crossed in 2014 when I was heading to Jordan on my first Cardiac mission. I was put in touch with Omar as I was looking for donations of coronary stents and other cardiac equipments. Despite my last minute request, Omar came through for us in a big way and has continued to do so ever since. He loves his current position with Boston Scientific as he often finds himself at the crossroads of all relationships internally at his company and externally. He gets to work with non-profit organizations such as MedGlobal, with thought leaders, hospitals, regulatory bodies, etc.

Omar has formed his own non-profit organization called SCHEDA, which was “founded with the mission to help reduce morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease, especially from coronary artery disease, structural heart disease and peripheral vascular disease, in underserved low- and middle-income populations globally.” I am grateful to have a friend like Omar and I look forward to our continued efforts to reduce cardiovascular morbidity and mortality around this world.

We at MedGlobal want to thank Omar, Julie and the Boston Scientific team for their generosity, and yours.