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Five-year-old Ahmed spends a final few moments laughing with members of Police Transition Team 8, Regimental Combat Team 1, before leaving for Ahman, Jordan Aug. 4. Ahmed’s serious medical condition required him to visit a specialist Jordan.

Photo by Cpl. Chris T. Mann

A new chance at life

4 Aug 2008 | Cpl. Chris T. Mann

FALLUJAH, Iraq (Aug. 4, 2008) –Five-year-old Ahmed, an Iraqi boy from Fallujah, Iraq, can now exhale sighs of relief after finally conquering a long and lingering battle against heart troubles that had left the young boy with chronic breathing and cardiovascular complications.

The condition, if left untreated, would likely have killed Ahmed at an early age.

Thanks to members of Police Transition Team 8, Regimental Combat Team 1, and Iraqi Police, Ahmed was able to travel to Ahman, Jordan, to get the medical care he desperately needed and he now has a new chance at life and a bright future.

Members of PTT-8 escorted Ahmed and his father, Warrant Officer Othman Mallouki, security detachment, Iraqi Police, Headquarters District, to the Baghdad International Airport August 4.

 “We are so happy and filled with hope now that this day is actually here and we are finally leaving,” said Mallouki, before boarding a plane to Jordan. “My dream has been to give Ahmed a normal life and let him go to school and have a future.”

The journey to medical treatment was a long and highly anticipated one for Ahmed and his family.

Ahmed’s parents first noticed there was something wrong with their son when he was a year old. The medical condition present in Ahmed’s cardiac system kept needed oxygen from reaching organs like a normal person’s circulatory system would, causing a bluish coloring around his eyes and on his face.

Ahmed’s heart troubles prevented him from leading a normal five-year-old boy’s life. His play time was often cut short because of the shortness of breath triggered by the hole in the center of his heart.

The nearest qualified specialist who could perform the surgery Ahmed needed was located at a surgical clinic in Jordan, and travel limitations and medical expenses had kept his family from seeking the care he needed.

Over a year ago, Marines operating in Fallujah learned of Ahmed’s condition and decided to help. They began a long process of raising money and obtaining the travel documents required for Ahmed’s trip to Jordan.

PTT-8, the most recent unit to help Ahmed and his family, have spent countless hours over the past several months planning travel arrangements and consulting with medical specialists in Jordan.

Mallouki and his son frequently visited the Joint Command Center in the Andaloos area of Fallujah to meet with Coalition forces.

“When Ahmed would come to visit, Marines would jump out of their rooms and stop what they were doing to see him,” said Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Craig W. Pasanen, the corpsman for PTT-8. “Everyone loves spending time with Ahmed; we sort of adopted him as a little brother into the PTT team.”

In late July, the team had helped Ahmed and Mallouki obtain everything they needed for the trip to Jordan, but some last minute expenses almost delayed the trip again.  

Several unexpected expenses were discovered just days before the two were scheduled to leave for Jordan, but the problem was quickly met and overcome by Iraqi Police from the Headquarters Precinct. The officers pulled together and donated their own money, raising $1,000 to cover the unexpected expenses.

After finally arriving to Jordan, hours of critical medical procedures proved successful for Ahmed. The hole in Ahmed’s heart is now mended, and he is currently recovering in the clinic’s intensive care unit and is expected to make a full recovery over the next few days.

Now, members of PTT-8, who had nicknamed Ahmed “Blue” because of his skin tone, are left with another important task—finding a new nickname for him. 

“I don’t know what we are going to call Ahmed when he gets back,” said Pasanen. “He won’t be ‘Blue’ anymore.”