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Sick Iraq Children Get American Medical Help

Many seriously ill children in Iraq go without any medical care. But as Amy Katz reports, a new program run by the U.S. military in conjunction with the Rotary Club is working to get Iraqis medical attention.

Four Iraqi children recently underwent traumatic surgeries in the United States. Wsam's heart was not able to pump blood to the rest of his body -- causing him to faint whenever he ran. Now, having had surgery to correct the problem, he says he's very comfortable. His doctor, Samuel Weinstein of Montefiore Children's Hospital, says Wsam has made great progress.

"We're already bargaining about shortening the period of time before I will let him play soccer again."

It is through the efforts of Staff Sergeant Marikay Satyrano that Wsam and the other Iraqi children got their surgeries. She is in the U.S. Army Reserves and part of her job is to help Iraqis get medical relief. So, when she was contacted by the children's parents she put them in touch with Rotary International's Gift of Life program -- which paid for the children to go to New York for their operations. It is a program she hopes to expand.

"We came there to make things better. And this is the first step," said the sergeant.

All four of the children were recently released from the hospital and are staying in the U.S. to recuperate. Ashjan came to the U.S. with a large hole in her heart. Now that it is repaired, her father, Khalid Jaralah, says he is changing her name -- which means sadness in Arabic, to Farah, which means happiness.

"I am very happy, I am very happy," he said.

After Ashjan and the other children recover from their surgeries, they will go back to Iraq -- healthy. That, hopes Ms. Satyrano, may help change some Iraqis' negative opinion of the U.S.