***image1***MANAS AIR BASE, Kyrgyzstan – Twelve-year-old Ismanova Dilbara has a beating, healthy heart. Two weeks ago, this was not true.
Ismanova, a patient at the Bishkek Cardial Center, has grown up suffering from “holes in her heart.” Because of the area’s high altitude, her heart’s valves formed small holes, about two centimeters in diameter, that would kill her were the problem not reversed. The heart surgery costs $560.
In steps the Manas Air Base Outreach Society. The Children’s Heart Fund, a MABOS focus group, continuously raises funds specifically for these heart surgeries. Ismanova’s successful surgery was a landmark for the group – the 25th heart surgery to date.
Staff Sgt. David Bean, a patrolman deployed from the 569th U.S. Forces Police Squadron, is the focus group leader for MABOS – the frontman for coordinating with locals for the surgeries, arranging transportation, raising donations – anything the fund needs or does goes through Sergeant Bean.
Ismanova’s surgery was Sergeant Bean’s second trip to the heart ward. He arrived at Manas in March, and immediately became involved in the Children’s Heart Fund.
“I talked to the previous focus group leader, and it seemed like something I wanted to get involved in,” said Sergeant Bean, who works for the 376th Security Forces Squadron here.
His hectic work schedule and an online college course load can make his deployment life stressful, but he continues to make time for the heart fund.
“It’s more than worth it,” he said, “when you see these kids and how happy we make them.” And as a single father, he has another reason for staying involved: he hates to see children in such hopeless situations. “I just don’t think kids should have to deal with problems like that.”
“We’re very glad that you’re here,” said heart surgeon Dr. Seitkhan Djoshibaev, “because our country is in a very difficult situation right now, and our government, unfortunately, is not available to provide everything that we need for heart surgeries.”
Speaking through translator Lina Shabiraliev, the doctor explained in his native Russian tongue that the hospital works with equipment dating from 1985, making his job difficult and somewhat dangerous.
“Because of the technology we do not have,” Doctor Djoshibaev explained, “the earliest we can perform surgeries on children is about 12 years of age.” The hospital has no post-surgery respirators appropriate for younger children, so affected kids have a small age window to have the reparative surgery.
Despite technological setbacks and a forced 12-year delay, though, Ismanova is one of the lucky few. Many needy children simply cannot afford the surgery. While the heart ward receives sporadic donations and funds, it is far from enough to meet the needs of the region; the Cardial Center has heart patients from as far as Kazakhstan.
MABOS is a major source of funding for the life-saving surgeries. Ismanova’s surgery took place May 31, and MABOS raised funds for another surgery June 20. It was Sergeant Bean’s third trip to the ward.