MP Bakoyan teams up with Aurora Laureate Mirza Dinnayi to save 3-year-old Arznda from Iraq - Mediamax.am

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MP Bakoyan teams up with Aurora Laureate Mirza Dinnayi to save 3-year-old Arznda from Iraq


Arznda, Rustam Bakoyan, and Soal Khodidas Lema
Arznda, Rustam Bakoyan, and Soal Khodidas Lema

Photo: Mediamax

Photo: Mediamax

Mirza Dinnayi in Yerevan in 2019
Mirza Dinnayi in Yerevan in 2019

Photo: Aurora

Photo: Mediamax

Photo: Mediamax

Photo: Mediamax

Photo: Mediamax

Arznda
Arznda

Photo: Mediamax

Arznda and Rustam Bakoyan
Arznda and Rustam Bakoyan

Photo: Mediamax

Arznda
Arznda

Photo: Mediamax

Arznda
Arznda

Photo: Mediamax

Arznda
Arznda

Photo: Mediamax

Photo: Mediamax

Arznda, MPs Rustam Bakoyan and Sos Avetisyan
Arznda, MPs Rustam Bakoyan and Sos Avetisyan

Photo: Mediamax

Soal Khodidas Lema and Arznda
Soal Khodidas Lema and Arznda

Photo: Mediamax

Photo: Mediamax

Photo: Mediamax

Arznda, MPs Rustam Bakoyan and Sos Avetisyan
Arznda, MPs Rustam Bakoyan and Sos Avetisyan

Photo: Mediamax

Photo: Mediamax

Photo: Mediamax


Three-year-old Arznda’s operation ended at the dawn, at 4 a.m. on February 25. Born with a heart issue, Arznda needed a ten-hour surgery to live.

 

“A single ventricle is the most difficult heart defect. One half of the heart is not working. People with that defect need surgery to survive. You can’t restore the full structure of the heart in this case, but operations carried out in stages can be quite effective,” said Hovhannes Zohrabyan, head of Children’s Cardiology Clinic at Nork Marash Medical Center.

 

Arznda is already breathing on her own. She still needs several more surgeries, but for now, the girl is doing well.

Arznda Arznda

Photo: Mediamax

Arznda is from a refugee Yazidi family from Iraq. When Islamic State terrorists attacked Sinjar in 2014, Arznda’s parents and 4-year-old brother escaped the violence. Moving from one Yazidi village to another, they finally reached Zakho, a city in Iraq.

 

“Many Yazidi refugees came to Zakho. They lived in the streets, on the side of the road. We settled under a tree first, trying to get bread and water at least. Then, we lived in the ruins of a house for three years. It had no roof, so we put cellophane in its place to make the house somewhat habitable,” said Arznda’s mother, Soal Khodidas Lema.

Soal Khodidas Lema and Arznda Soal Khodidas Lema and Arznda

Photo: Mediamax

Arznda was born in Zakho. The family learned about her health issues when the girl was 6 months old. The doctors in Iraq said she had no chances of survival. The doctors in Turkey gave the same warning, but Arznda miraculously lived after the surgery in Ankara. She had to be operated again a year later, but the family did not have the means to pay for it.

 

The biggest issues that Yazidi refugees face in Iraq are healthcare and education-related. Member of the Armenian National Assembly, ethnic Yazidi Rustam Karoyan has learned about these challenges personally, when he visited the refugee camp in Iraq. 

Arznda, MPs Rustam Bakoyan and Sos Avetisyan Arznda, MPs Rustam Bakoyan and Sos Avetisyan

Photo: Mediamax

“After I returned to Armenia, I met the Minister of Health and told him about the situation. Initially, we tried to send doctors to Sinjar to do the operations there, but the political situation in Iraq was rather tense and we were unable to execute that plan.

 

We started thinking of brining children with life-threatening conditions to Armenia to help them here. The Health Minister told me the surgeries would be done for almost cost price,” said Rustam Bakoyan.

Arznda Arznda

Photo: Mediamax

Bakoyan reached out to Aurora Prize 2019 Laureate Mirza Dinnayi for help with transportation, accommodation, and surgery costs. Yazidi activist Dinnayi has been helping women and children, who suffered from the Iraq war, and taking them to Germany for treatment since 2007.

Mirza Dinnayi in Yerevan in 2019 Mirza Dinnayi in Yerevan in 2019

Photo: Aurora

With support from Mirza Dinnayi and his Air Bridge Iraq foundation, Arznda arrived in Armenia on February 17.

 

We visited Arznda with Rustam Bakoyan before the surgery. As soon as the girl noticed him, she immediately cheered up, gave Bakoyan a long hug and then started showing him her toys.

Arznda and Rustam Bakoyan Arznda and Rustam Bakoyan

Photo: Mediamax

“She stayed up to see you,” Arznda’s mother told Bakoyan. According to her, the girl was already used to video calls and called the MP whenever she missed him.

 

As we passed through the corridor, patients and doctors waved at Arznda from behind half-open doors. Her story has moved many hearts: members of the Yazidi community and representatives of Iraqi Embassy visit Arznda, bring her toys and flowers. 

 

“I’ve been to hospitals in other countries and we were never treated with such hospitality as here, in Armenia. I am a mother. I know the value of a child’s life,” said Soal Khodidas Lema.

Photo: Mediamax

Arznda’s family also received assistance from Ambassador of Armenia to Iraq and benefactor, ethnic Yazidi from Iraq Ali Ezdi. Nork Marash Medical Center agreed to host Arznda and her mother at the clinic in the post-surgery period.

Arznda Arznda

Photo: Mediamax

Arznda is one of many children who cannot get help in Iraq’s healthcare system. According to Rustam Bakoyan, Arznda’s story has helped to understand what challenges and obstacles can occur in the process of getting the sick children the treatment they need. Now Bakoyan and others are more confident in their efforts, and they will try to help another child soon.

Arznda Arznda

Photo: Mediamax

“We’ll be happy to see more people get involved, to be able to save more lives. We need all the help we can get, every penny counts,” he said.

Arznda, MPs Rustam Bakoyan and Sos Avetisyan Arznda, MPs Rustam Bakoyan and Sos Avetisyan

Photo: Mediamax

When Arznda recovers from the operation, she will return to Iraq, but she will need two more surgeries a few years later.

 

Lusine Gharibyan 

Photos: Karen Hovhannisyan (exclusive for Mediamax)

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