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Ambassador of Iraq Visits Amenah at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt

Jan. 28, 2008, 11:17 AM

The Ambassador of Iraq to the United States, Samir Sumaidaie, took a break from business in Knoxville to come to Nashville Sunday to visit Amenah, the 2-year-old Iraqi girl who has come to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt for surgery to correct a life-threatening heart defect. Sumaidaie is from Haditha, Iraq, the hometown of Amenah and her family.

Sumaidaie said he heard of Amenah about 10 days ago and was concerned about her health. He visited with Amenah and her mother in their hospital room in the Cardiac Care Unit at Children’s Hospital for about 30 minutes. Doctors, including Kevin Churchwell, M.D., chief executive officer of Children’s Hospital and also a pediatric critical care physician, briefed Sumaidaie about Amenah’s condition. Afterward, the ambassador told members of the media in attendance that efforts like this to help Amenah are important, especially in times of war.

“War is a cruel thing. Many families get destroyed or disrupted, but there are instances where lives are saved, many instances,” Sumaidaie said. “I would like to express my appreciation to the American military that never miss a chance –where it is possible, they have saved lives.”

Sumaidaie also expressed his gratitude to Churchwell and the hospital staff for agreeing to treat Amenah without charge. The child and her family found their way to the Children’s Hospital when a Vanderbilt physician, who is serving as the battalion medical officer for troops who first found Amenah in Iraq, contacted his colleagues back in Nashville.

“It is important by saving her life they will have left a mark, not only on that family but on the entire community. So that is really the best way to win the war. The best way to defeat terrorists is to be on the side of the people, and this is a shining example of this,” said Sumaidaie.

Amenah has been at Children’s Hospital since Thursday, being treated for an infection in preparation for open-heart surgery to repair a complex heart defect she has had since birth. It is hoped Amenah will be well enough to undergo surgery within the next two weeks. Her doctors say she will die without surgery.

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