US Navy helps ICHF save Afghani toddler's life

Wednesday August 01, 2007 12:55:17 PM

In May 2007, ICHF headquarters in Memphis, TN received an email from a US Navy officer stationed in Afghanistan.  LT Jobe Galli was searching for help for Rahim, his Afghani interpreter’s young son, Hibrahim who had been diagnosed with a congenital heart defect at 18 months old.   Saving Hibrahim's life was critical to LT Galli because his own son had a similar defect and received live saving surgery when he was only eight days old.

The effort to save Habrahim began with a group of US Navy men and women who made it possible for Rahim to transport his son to the French Medical Institute for Children in Kabul.  It was there that Hibrahim was diagnosed with atrial septal defect and transposition of the great vessels.  Without surgery, Hibrahim’s condition was terminal.  There were no doctors in that area capable of performing the necessary surgery. But Rahim and the US Navy persisted. They found a US hospital that agreed to perform the operation for free, but getting Hibrahim and his father to the US was impossible. 

It was then that LT Galli wrote to everyone he knew about the little boy's situation.  LT Galli wrote, “When I saw Rahim after I found out about his son, I knew that I couldn’t live with myself, seeing him [Rahim], talking to him, working with him, and getting to know him every day for a year, if I wasn’t doing everything in my power to help him.” The email wound its way to the International Children’s Heart Foundation. To LT Galli's and Rahim's elation, the ICHF team promised to perform the operation at The Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology in Rawalpindi, Pakistan during its June trip.

Hibrahim received his operation on Friday, June 22, 2007.  Getting this child’s operation took a collaborative effort by US military personnel, friends all over the world, the ICHF volunteer medical team, and Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology.  Thanks so much to everyone who helped save Hibrahim’s life.

Father & son reunited at homeUpdate: October, 2007. As the picture on the left clearly shows, Hibrahim is well into his recovery and his father is grateful to have his family back together.