On Tuesday December 7, 2021 United Surgeons for Children hosted its first in-person event in the United States.
The VIP dinner honoring United Surgeons for Children was held at the French Consulate in New York City, under the High Patronage of Jérémie Robert, Consul General of France in New York. As the US affiliate of the French NGO La Chaîne de l’Espoir, the backdrop of the French Consulate was an important nod to our history and intention to strengthen our French-American friendship through an outgrowth of US support. For USFC, it was the very first time that our leadership and staff were able to meet with some of our New York-based supporters and donors.
The program included speeches from Lee Hilling, President of USFC, Anouchka Finker, CEO of La Chaîne de l’Espoir and Director of USFC and Pr. Dominique Jan, Board Member at USFC and Chief of Pediatric Surgery at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore. During the evening, we directed a spotlight on our Afghanistan programming during a fireside chat between La Chaîne de l’Espoir President, Dr. Éric Cheysson, and Dr. Najeebullah Bina, Head of Cardiac Surgery at the French Medical Institute for Mothers and Children in Kabul, Afghanistan.
The French Medical Institute for Mothers and Children (FMIC) was one of the first hospitals constructed by USFC and its health programming has grown into one of the most developed programs in any country. As Dr. Cheysson shared, “For 15 years, this hospital has been a daily miracle. We were able to perform the most complex surgeries: the first open heart surgery in Afghanistan, the first separation of Siamese twins. We created the first adult intensive care unit and the first neonatal intensive care unit in the country. This hospital represents 15 years of activity with more than 42.000 surgeries and over 1.5 million patients served. It has given back dignity to our Afghan colleagues.”
Dr. Bina, who was present on the fateful morning of August 15, 2021 as the US troop were exiting the country, shared more about his personal experiences on that day, and living through a situation that many call the next greatest humanitarian crisis on earth.
Due to safety concerns, Dr. Bina had to flee the country. But many doctors remain at the FMIC. Dr. Cheysson shared a message that he received from a nurse who works in a hospital in Kabul: “Already 25 deaths of malnourished children, the rations are done. No heating. The patients’ rooms are getting really cold. The trees in the hospital park are being cut down one by one but for the moment the wood is only used for cooking. All over the country people are hungry and some are starving to death”.
Though it is devastatingly hard to hear such news, it is important that we share these stories, because it’s a situation that concerns all of us. We are in the midst of a period that is so critical, it requires a collective and united approach, that stretches beyond borders. If you are interested in supporting our Afghanistan program or would like to be informed of upcoming events of this sort, please donate today and subscribe to our newsletter here. Join us in creating a world in which all people, regardless of wealth or nationality, can have the opportunity to thrive in health.