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Sep-21-2008 15:13printcommentsVideo

Marine Corps, Jordan and Israel Offer Hope for Iraqi Child Heart Patients (VIDEO)

A unique and unusual merger of nations offers hope to eight small Iraqi kids who suffer from congenital heart failure.

Navy doctor in Iraq helps kids
Iraqi families have very few places to turn for help for their kids.
Photo by Tim King

(AL ASAD, Iraq) - U.S. Marines are among the most accomplished killers in the world, but this Marine Corps story is about giving and sustaining life, rather than taking it.

A Navy doctor attached to the U.S. Marines at Al Asad has put together an amazing program to help Iraqi children receive medical aid that is not available anywhere in their own country. Lt. Commander Christina Williams is a family practice physician from Oklahoma who came to this land of war and death to deliver a unique and unexpected gift of life.

"Well there are several children that have cardiac anomalies, holes in their hearts, and they have no resources in this country in order to address their situation. They already, some of them, have already been to Baghdad. They don't have the proper equipment to do surgery on them, so I found an organization that is out of Israel and it's working through Aman, Jordan, and we're going to try to get the children sent over to Aman to do an initial screening with an electrocardiogram and their cardiologists; and then if they're candidates for surgery, to send them on over to Israel for surgery."

The men, two of them fathers of the children, and one an uncle who is a child's caretaker and guardian, know that without this incredible new opportunity, the outcome would not look good.

Naser Kharrouy Mohmmaed, uncle of one of the children, said, "Right now in Iraq, you always have hope, and right now hope is coming to them."

I asked the doctor what the outcome would be without this special help involving the U.S. Marines and the three countries, Iraq, Jordan and Israel.

"Their outcome would be pretty dismal, they have no opportunity for surgery, and so they would succumb to their illnesses and probably die."

Speaking through an interpreter, Ahmed Karem, an Iraqi Policeman and father of one of the children, said all other attempts to seek and secure help have fallen short.

"He's taken her to all the hospitals, the major hospitals in Iraq, they haven't gotten the results yet, she's five and a half years old, and right now at this point, the only hope he's got is this right now."

This hope will now transform into something much larger, as the children move toward their combined goal of receiving treatment.

This Navy doctor attached to the Marine Corps at Al Asad in the Anbar Province says that while the number of children is relatively small, it is important to note that this treatment in reality, represents many things.

"I feel like I was in the right place at the right time. I think there is no mistake and that there is a higher power at work here, it's not just coincidence. I'll tell you one of my favorite stories that I just told someone else recently: there was this little boy who walking along the seashore and he was pelting these little starfish into the sea, and this man said, 'don't you know there are thousands of starfish on this beach? You can't possibly make a difference.' And the boy just picked up another starfish and threw it in the sea and said, 'I just made a difference for that one.'

"So, I know it's a very small number of children, but it helps them, it helps their families, it fosters good relationships between the Americans and the people, though that is not the motivation; the motivation is that one little sick child who is struggling to take a breath, you help that one child and you made a difference for them, so that's what is important."

Williams says that in addition to the eight heart patients, one youngster from Babylon will receive treatment for leukemia. She says the World Heart Organization is administering the program along with the U.S. Marines, Jordan and Israel.


Produced by Tim King


Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines.

Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Silver Spoke Award by the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (2011), Excellence in Journalism Award by the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs (2010), Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), First-place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Tim has several years of experience in network affiliate news TV stations, having worked as a reporter and photographer at NBC, ABC and FOX stations in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. Tim was a member of the National Press Photographer's Association for several years and is a current member of the Orange County Press Club.

Serving the community in very real terms, is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. As News Editor, Tim among other things, is responsible for publishing the original content of 82 writers. He reminds viewers that emails are easily missed and urges those trying to reach him, to please send a second email if the first goes unanswered. You can write to Tim at this address:

End Israel's Unwarranted Murder of Kids

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Vic September 23, 2008 6:49 pm (Pacific time)

It is certainly convenient when one is trying to be a "Christian" warmonger not to want to "argue scripture".I wouldnt either. After all..."Thou shalt not kill" is a very confusing commandment, right? How do you interpret it? Again, appreciate your comments, but the idea of a "Christian" warmonger is very strange to me. And if I recall correctly, Exodus is in the Old Teatament..which also contains rape, incest, genocide, infantacide and patricide...I was under the impression that "Christian" meant a follower of Christ..not Abraham. Again, the truth speaks for itself. Maybe you and I have different Bibles....

Denise September 23, 2008 4:22 pm (Pacific time)

I don't wish to argue scripture, because I know better. The truth stands on its own and needs no defending. Just read Exodus 17 when you have the chance. That is only the first that comes to mind as there are many and it would take a long time to make a list, therefore read it for yourself. Not that I am right, just have my own beliefs and convictions. Let your own heart tell you what is right, no need for reply as my opinion does not matter here only what you know in your own heart to be right. That's how it is with politics and religion. It is based upon beliefs,not all of us believe or interpret things the same. Again, another great reason I am so very glad to be an American. BTW: My Jesus was Hebrew. Palestinians are descended from the ancient Philistines and are Arab not Jew. Needless to say, when we are called to war I am sure there are many who will fight for you so you won't have to, therefore you can stay true to your convictions and sleep well at night. Blessings Brother :)

Vic September 23, 2008 2:55 pm (Pacific time)

Thank you for your thoughtful and respectful reply, Denise. My viewpoint is not so much political (I dont even plan to vote this year) , but moral, as I was raised a Christian. Unlike a lot of my peers, I actually took a lot of the teachings of Christ to heart and never thought I could pick and choose what aspects or tenets I would live by and disregard the rest. When Jesus said "Thou shalt not kill"....I took it to mean just that. In no Bible that I ever read ( I have read the King James,the Knox version, then Wesley version, the Greek Orthodox version,the Rainbow Bible version, and the Living Bible version) was there an asterisk with the clarification that I COULD kill if I were in the employ of an army or militia, OR were wearing an uniform. I guess God just forgot to include that part.. When He said "Love thine enemies and pray for those who spitefully use you"..I took him at his word. I was probably naive...very little of Christ's teachings are accepted or enacted in America today. If indeed, Jesus (the Palestinian) were here in America today, Im sure he would be made to feel very unwelcome by the good "Christians" here. You ended your comment with God Bless America....I say God Bless Us All.

Denise September 23, 2008 11:58 am (Pacific time)

Vic, Sadly you have missed the point of this story. I see it as when life gives you lemons, make lemonaide instead of complaining so much. I choose to be the optimist even when life sometimes stinks. I understand that you are coming from a politcal standpoint, probably the same view that says it is ok to murder an unborn child, which would contradict your previous statements on war. I am of the conceptual thinking that it might be a good idea to own a "gun", hoping never to have to use it but having the guts to when necessary. However, I am thankful to be in a country that we can have differing views and I am thankful to the men and women (including my own father) that served and died and gave me that right. It is my understanding that as voters, we put "those" people in Congress, again I am so thankful for the freedom to vote. Yes there are other ways to serve our country. I personally serve in ministry (while holding down a fulltime job as a single mother) as a Youth Leader in my church trying to teach teenagers morals (which is very lacking in our country), my own brother (now deceased) was mentally handicapped as well as is my own mother. But hey, I don't know a thing about "sacrafice" now do I...and you are very welcome for the service that Tim, others and myself gave to you and the rest of America, even if you don't appreciate it. God Bless you brother and God Bless America!

Henry Ruark September 23, 2008 10:44 am (Pacific time)

To all: Straight-fact of his choice for story, location, and this emphasis from Tim makes very definite the precise point in mine earlier: He set up correct information right where it belonged, in the lead sentences of the story. What more do you all want for your nickel ? If you appreciate facts gathered with integrity, straight from the front, why not support it, not only here but with nickels and much more sent you-know-where...

Anonymous September 23, 2008 10:41 am (Pacific time)

Well according to some people, only a veteran is qualified to make comments regarding war...heres one from a guy a lot of you probably admire... “Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.” Hermann Goering Nazi Reichsmarshall

Vic September 23, 2008 10:35 am (Pacific time)

I understand the concept of war, country wants the natural resources of another, the weapons manufacturers and their puppets in Congress and the Senate want to make big bucks, international bankers want to make big $$ financing the whole thing...everyone makes money except the well-meaning dupes that buy into it and hand over their kids and their taxes. And Denise, there are a lot of ways to serve your country than the military, but military training seems to make people suspend their sense of judgement and rational thinking. My mother taught mentally challenged kids grades 4 thru you think your service in the Navy was more important than her contribution?? I would say it doesnt even come close. You flag wavers that think that patriotism means killing other people make me nauseous.

Denise, USN Veteran September 23, 2008 9:35 am (Pacific time)

Tim, I commend you for your continued service to our country for reporting the truth here. So many just want Hollywood's side of the story...sad. I would venture to say these negative people in this forum have not served the country they so freely live in and don't understand the concept of war, and why sometimes it has been necessary in the world. Folks, let us not forget 9-11. I for one am very touched by the human factor of this story and kudos to the Doc - Go Navy!

Vic September 23, 2008 8:37 am (Pacific time) comment was edited..I was talking about the appx total of dead, injured, orphaned and displaced kids..which even if you go by the most conservative estimates, would equal around 4 million. Im glad you think all this is funny..Ignorance and denial must be euphoric. Screw the facts...they just get in the way of small minds. And Julie...sure it is a good thing that these eight kids are being helped, but the source of the help..Israel and the Marines is what is so ironic. Kind of like if Ted Bundy donated $10 to the Humane Society .a valid cause..would that be a feel-good story?

Russell September 23, 2008 5:28 am (Pacific time)

"it falls about four million kids short" "but not in the places that show the humdreds of thousands that are being killed" Such intense well planned thought went into those statements... Are you guys actually serious? Hold on a second, the laughter is making my belly ache. Okay, much better... And you've seen these atrocities first hand? No, I don't think so but thats probably because they aren't happening. Man ignorance must be such a euphoric feeling, where can I buy some?

Tim King September 22, 2008 12:20 pm (Pacific time)

Man, I want to be clear that I chose to go to Al Asad; I went there because my old Marine unit was there. Say what you want but stop inferring that they "put me there" because that is pure crap and it is not the way it is. Sorry if you guys don't like me finding a totally unique story, I think I clarified in the first paragraph that Marines are killers, just stop suggesting that I was "put" somewhere because that is not the way it is, thanks just the same.

Henry Ruark September 22, 2008 11:25 am (Pacific time)

Cognitive scientists tell us now that emotion often conquers reason, and even intense feeling about relationships with others. ANY child-saved is ONE child NOT destroyed, with each and every situation demanding its own context, well understood, for ANY evaluation. Tim's lead set story in just the right understandable context via characterizing Marine dutiful intent, then separating same from what he wished to report. Knowing we sometimes find our armed forces doing the right thing, whether for what we see as "the right reasons" from our definitely hampered view back here, or for what some see as further proof of ongoing failures (from the same viewpoint),is perhaps irrelevant in judging this story. For me, I glory to find solid confirmation that positive sides sometimes happen even in very negative situations. Since cogitation re warfare is always extremely complex, a little more time for that process might modify the rapid expression we sometimes find here. (Own mea culpa may follow on some items,too.) Hang in there, Tim !

Julie September 22, 2008 9:49 am (Pacific time)

What i find most amazing is Vic and sts. How uncaring, cold people you are. So, don't help a couple of kids because you can't help them ALL??? What the hell? Believe me, you lose all your credibility when you show your true colors. Are you always this selfish and cruel? That's like not feeding poor kids at your local school because there are homeless people everywhere that are hungry. I guess that's the bizarre way your minds work. Do you guys eat the same food or something? I think it's better to get a feel good story, that is true, than blood and guts and no others. You must be into that kind of thing, at least subconsciously, if this story about saving kids bothers you. Weird.

Vic September 22, 2008 5:03 am (Pacific time)

This story is so amazingly ironic, I dont even know what to say. We kill hundreds of thousands of Iraqi kids and are supposed to feel like the good guys for helping a few?? If this is supposed to be a "feel-good" story, it falls about four million kids short.

sts September 21, 2008 8:13 pm (Pacific time)

Sorry Tim, I like ya, but I knew this was going to happen. I have looked at maps in regards to where you are. You are in the mellow parts, the parts that show "help". They are putting you in the places that show a few being helped, but not in the places that show the humdreds of thousands that are being killed. Sorry Tim, luv ya like a brother..but  you are buying right into it. The Iraqi children suffering? try looking at videos widespread of the children as their parents are killed!  sorry, but a few iraqi's being helped after all that have been killed just does not set right with me. still your brother, but gosh darn.

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