Sunday, October 16, 2005

Update on Operation Rhma

Witnessing the critical Iraqi referendum Saturday, I saw such a breadth of events that some time is required to compose a dispatch equal to those historic proceedings. Accurately capturing the experience is more important than quickly delivering a statistical summary. The newspapers can handle the summaries. A surplus of reporters has kept an ongoing tally of high voter turnout and low insurgent activity. By now most people know that the voting was extraordinarily successful. But there’s more to say than that it was a success. This milestone deserves careful consideration and writing. With that in mind, please be patient for a dispatch covering the historical voting that occurred in Iraq on 15 October 2005.

Meanwhile, there’s also good news from the United States for people following the events I’ve chronicled in Iraq. Many people read about the travails of a little Iraqi girl named Rhma whose heart condition brought her to the attention of Deuce Four soldiers in May during a sweep in downtown Mosul. As I reported in a previous dispatch, Rhma finally made it to America for medical treatment.

When she first arrived, I challenged local journalists with the task of keeping us all informed about her progress. Several newspapers and television stations in the Albuquerque region were ready to go with stories, but the news dried up shortly after the family arrived in New Mexico. Her mother, overwhelmed by so many pressures, and concerned for the safety of her family when they returned to Iraq, limited the release of information. Bits and pieces were the most anyone could find and pass along, until Pam English was kind enough to contact me with news.

Pam is a nurse at the Presbyterian Heart Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She’s also the mother of a soldier who just returned from Mosul, and Pam was one of many people in the US who chiseled through walls to arrange for treatment and support for Rhma and her parents. She sent this news:

Rhma did absolutely beautifully during surgery. Her oxygen saturation is now between 87 and 91 and she is pink! She looks like a different child. Her Mom just kept holding her hands, looking at her nail beds and smiling. She has been very stable and has not required any medications to keep her blood pressure up. She is still on the ventilator just to allow her to rest for the night but she'll be off it in the morning. I will keep you posted.

And then, the very next day, Pam added this news:
She's great today, off the ventilator, watching TV, and pink!