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Iraqi Girl’s Surgery Complete, Family Hopes for a Full Recovery

Feb. 11, 2008, 2:52 PM

Pink fingers, toes and lips. Those were the things 2-year-old Amenah Al-Bayati’s mother noticed when she saw her daughter for the first time after open heart surgery to repair a serious birth defect. A surgical team at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt performed open heart surgery on the toddler from Iraq today. The three-hour surgery involved redirecting blood from Amenah’s heart to her lungs in order to supply the toddler with better oxygen to the rest of her body. “The surgery went well. We redirected the veins of her heart in a procedure called a bi-directional Glenn Shunt,” said Karla Christian, M.D., associate professor of Cardiac Surgery. “Her heart already looks much happier. It is pumping very well, and her oxygenation percentages to her fingers and toes went from 60 percent and 70 percent before surgery to more than 90 percent after.”
“I cannot describe how I am feeling,” said Amenah’s mother, Maha Mohammed Al-Sumaidaie. “I didn’t even imagine this could happen, thank goodness for everything, and I thank God for all those who have helped.” Amenah and her mother arrived at Children’s Hospital at 5:30 a.m. with Steve Berger, a Franklin, Tenn. pastor whose family is hosting the family while they are in Middle Tennessee. The surgery began at 7 a.m., and by 11 a.m. the surgical team was able to report to Amenah’s mother that surgery was complete and had gone well. When Christian emerged from the operating room, Mohammed Al-Sumaidaie gave her a big hug and thanked her many times. After surgery, Amenah was taken to the Pediatric Critical Care Unit where she will recover for the next several days. She will remain on a ventilator for several hours, requiring intensive care support for the first 24 to 48 hours after surgery. The first 24 hours after surgery are critical. However, doctors are cautiously optimistic Amenah will enjoy a full recovery. Amenah Al-Bayati was discovered in Haditha, Iraq by U.S. soldiers who noticed how blue she looked. When her family told soldiers they feared she would not live much longer, the soldiers and friends arranged to fly her to Nashville for surgery. Children’s Hospital doctors had to wait for Amenah to recover from a cold, and other infections, before operating this morning. To see more about Amenah Al-Bayati and her journey to the U.S. for live-saving surgery, go to
Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt Feb. 11, 2008 Contact: Carole Bartoo, 322-4747

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