Army surgeon changes lives

Spec. Todd Goodman
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center

He shed a tear after losing a patient. He tackled a job that he wasn’t trained to do. He helped rebuild a city and touched the lives of each Iraqi he encountered. But most importantly, he helped facilitate change.
Army Lt. Col. John Scott, chief of pediatrics at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and the European Theater’s only pediatric cardiologist, spent 10 months in Kirkuk, Iraq, trying to improve the lives of the locals.
He was assigned to be a battalion surgeon of the 2-503rd Infantry Division. However, after the Kirkuk Air Base was captured and control of the city was gained, he was transferred to civil affairs.
“They didn’t need me to be a battalion surgeon, so I went out and asked, ‘What does this city need?’”
The city needed help. Their hospitals do not offer specialty procedures, plus they are 20 years behind modern health care technology. High-tech gadgets, however, were not on the agenda of the civil affairs team.
Colonel Scott got a first-hand look at the local hospitals of Kirkuk, a city of about 500,000 people, saw what the facilities had and what they needed.
After his review, one of the first things to do was to get local children a measles vaccination.
“We performed 6,000 vaccines in about a week,” he said. “There had not been a measles vaccine in a year.”
Colonel Scott also noticed that Iraqi health clinics desperately needed medical books. After his phone call to LRMC, it didn’t take long for books to begin arriving.
“We sent a total of 1,000 medical books from American hospitals in Germany and 1,000 more from the continental United States,” he said.
One of the most touching and emotional events of his tour came via a 2-day-old Iraqi baby. Colonel Scott had been making rounds to different hospitals, when he saw an infant whose skin was bluer than it should have been.
Without quick action, the baby would have been dead within a week. She was taken to a hospital in Baghdad and given a temporary fix to buy time until surgery. When that time came, a rarity occurred – she was taken to an Israeli hospital.
“It was miraculous for her to go to Israel for treatment,” said Colonel Scott. This baby and her family were the first Iraqis to go to Israel in 50 years.
“I helped make sure the proper people were communicating was all. Hopefully, this will open doors for the hundreds of Iraqi children who need this type of treatment,” he said.