Twenty three Iraqi children with life-threatening heart conditions were flown to India last night for surgery thanks to the UAE charitable group Tareeq al Zuhoor. Each accompanied by a parent, the children were to arrive in Bangalore this morning to be treated at one of the world's largest peadiatric heart hospitals: Narayana Hrudayalaya.
Over the next three weeks each will be treated by one of 60 heart surgeons who man the 26 cardiac theatres at the hospital, which was opened in 2001 by Dr Devi Shetty, renowned in his field. This is the third time this year that Tareeq al Zuhoor, not yet an officially registered charity, has provided funding and resources for sick children from Iraq. In April, 25 children travelled to India via Dubai.
Ayad Abbas, one of the founders of Tareeq al Zuhoor, travelled with the last group and said the operations made a visible difference. "This really is life-saving surgery for these children," Mr Abbas said. "One of the boys from Mosul was literally blue when he went into theatre, and he came out pink. Within three days he had picked up a football and was running around, even though he still had stitches in his chest. I was lost for words, it was amazing to see."