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Heartfelt Thanks
  Less than four months ago, Staff Sergeant Carlos Delgado Martinez of the US Marine Corps (Civil Affairs Team Chief, 3rd Battalion/9th Marine) was approached by members of a small village near Marjeh district in Helmand province, Afghanistan. A little boy named Bashir, then around 18-months old, was very ill. Doctors at the French Medical Institute for Children in Kabul examined the boy and provided a diagnosis and the necessary treatment: Bashir’s heart was malformed. Without surgery Bashir would likely not live to see his second birthday.

Such news is devastating to parents all over the world. In Afghanistan, where poverty is the norm and cardiac surgeons capable of such specialized surgery are nonexistent, Bashir’s future was dim.

Staff Sergeant Martinez contacted ASA and appealed to the organization to help raise funds and arrange for Bashir’s care. Doctors at the French Medical Institute for Children indicated that surgery would have to take place overseas, most likely in India at an estimated cost of $15,000.

ASA’s contacts in the Afghan government, US Military, and the Afghan Red Crescent Society were able to identify pediatric cardiologist Dr. Viresh Mahajan at the Max Healthcare Institute, Devki Devi Foundation in India. Through Dr. Mahajan this hospital provides cardiac surgery to children from third-world countries for $5000—a fraction of the cost, though still well outside the reach of Bashir and his village.

ASA donors in the United States and Afghanistan raised funds totaling over $4500. With support from the US Marine Corps this was enough to bring Bashir to India with his father and an Afghan physician, Dr. Wali.

Dr. Mahajan admitted Bashir for surgery immediately, telling ASA that the boy was very sick and the surgery required was extremely risky. While the wire transfer made its way to India, Dr. Mahajan pledged his own money and went ahead with the surgery.

Today, Bashir is a healthy toddler, after returning to Afghanistan with his father and a remade heart. “Child Bashir has recovered well after surgery and appears to be a totally different child. By God’s grace everything went off well and he reached us just in time,” wrote Dr. Mahajan, who continues to provide cardiac care in India to underprivileged children from around the world. ASA hopes to work with him again to provide cardiac care to impoverished Afghan children.

Efforts like that of Staff Sergeant Martinez, to reach out and help the local populace in Afghanistan, are part of the ongoing and often unsung mission of the US Marine Corps. ASA extends their heartfelt thanks to Dr. Mahajan, Staff Sergeant Martinez and the US Marine Corps. Special thanks are due to the donors who gave ASA the means to make this happen.

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