The Syrian civil war has had far-reaching health implications for those who continue to live through it – from cardiovascular ailments to chronic stress.
Two of our own Lahey Hospital & Medical Center physicians lead the Interventional Cardiology team on a medical mission to Jordan organized by the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) to provide health care to Syrian refugees and underserved Jordanians.
The organization works in Syria and neighboring countries helping to alleviate suffering and save the lives of those affected by war. In 2017, SAMS provided more than 3.5 million medical services, including 3.2 million inside Syria.
Dr. Wael Al-Husami, an Interventional Cardiologist and Medical Director, International Health at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, has joined SAMS on eight medical missions, treating back-to-back
patients for a week each time. Last month another Interventional Cardiologist, Dr. Sergio Waxman, who is also Associate Director, Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, Director, Interventional Cardiology Training Program and Director, Interventional Cardiovascular Research at Lahey, joined the latest SAMS mission to Jordan, bringing together more than 90 volunteers from all over the world, including 47 doctors.
“How can one say ‘no’ when it involves going somewhere to help people in need. Regardless of anyone’s political, social or religious views, this is about
basic humanity. People are desperate for these services,” said Dr. Waxman.
The group saw patients at a local hospital in Amman, Jordan, but also made an on-site visit to the Zaatari Refugee Camp, home to nearly 80,000 Syrian refugees.
“We got there and it’s so different. You learn quickly to do a lot with a little,” said Dr. Waxman.
“Medical supplies do not go to waste over there. Every piece of equipment, every balloon, every syringe, even every sponge, counts. There are no extras,” he said.
Refugee patients have detrimental health conditions, including heart blockages and poor cardiovascular health in general.
“During these missions, we often treat young patients. The impact of chronic stress and anxiety is evident in their health,” said Dr. Al-Husami. “Patients over there have experienced a lot of hardship and trauma. They have had a family member killed, or know a neighbor who has been killed,” he added.
The total cost of procedures to treat 80 patients, including coronary angiograms, stenting and open heart surgeries for the whole cardiology mission was roughly $60,000, that is what would be the cost to treat one cardiac patient with a similar condition in the U.S., Dr. Al- Husami explained.
During the six-day mission to Jordan, SAMS volunteers provided 5,024 services, including 1,232 internal medicine, nephrology, family medicine and internal medicine services, as well as 1,324 pediatric services.
The work left such a positive impression on Dr. Waxman that he is already planning to join future missions.
“We delivered care but, more importantly, we delivered hope. I will be going back for sure,” said Waxman.