Life-saving heart surgery performed on Jalalabad toddler in memory of Afghan medical student

IMG_1664 croppedA fundraiser was started in Canada and the U.S. to pay for life-saving heart surgery for two-year-old Mansoor in Afghanistan. It was initiated upon the tragic death of Afghan medical student, Mustafa Ahmadzai, who was studying in Toronto, Canada. Friends of Ahmadzai’s wanted to do something to honor Ahmadzai and his lifelong dream of helping sick children in Afghanistan.

They learned about Mansoor’s urgent need for surgery through humanitarian, Farhad Zaheer, and chose to raise funds in Ahmadzai’s memory for Mansoor. Zaheer, an English teacher at Nangarhar Teaching Training College, has been instrumental in facilitating critical surgery for four other Afghan children, two who received heart surgery in Israel, one who was treated for burns in Afghanistan and a fourth who underwent heart surgery in India.

Ahmadzai completed his B.Sc. in Biology at Queen’s University in Canada and was pursuing graduate studies in the Program in Cell Biology, the Hospital for Sick Children, Department of Biochemistry, at the University of Toronto. Before beginning his studies in Canada, he spent one-year as a high school exchange student in the U.S. in 2008-2009 where he developed lasting friendships with many Americans and other exchange students from around the world.

Helping Mansoor was a fitting tribute to Ahmadzai and the dreams he had for his future. In May 2009, at the age of 16, he wrote, “I respect all people with different diversity. I would like to become a medical doctor in the future to help my poor people who have suffered a lot. I would like to do something to develop this world and to bring all people of diversity together with no regard to their religion, color, economy, or ethnicity. I hope that one day I will do something for the good of this world, especially for the good of my country.”

Mansoor post op

Mansoor after surgery, 9 April 2017

When Mansoor was only nine months old, he was diagnosed at the French Medical Institute for Children in Kabul with Ventricular Septal Defect (a congenital hole between the two main pumping chambers of the heart) and Severe Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension. He began heart failure medication at that time. The doctors said that he required surgery “as soon as possible” before he suffers from irreversible heart failure, but his family could not afford to travel abroad for the necessary surgery.

Mansoor and his family live in Ghani Khail District, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. Zaheer made arrangements for his operation at the Sri Sathya Sai Heart Hospital, Rajkot, India. A humanitarian from India, Sanjeev Hingorani, helped with the communication between the hospital and the family. Mansoor’s test results were sent to the hospital, his case was accepted and an invitation letter was sent so the family could get their Indian visas.

The surgery was performed free of charge, but Mansoor’s family needed financial support for ground transportation between Jalalabad and Kabul, roundtrip airfare from Kabul to Delhi, money for the 20-hour train trip from Delhi to Raipur, and food and incidental expenses. Money raised by the Mustafa Ahmadzai Memorial Fund was sent to Zaheer to pay for their costs. Zaheer was able to negotiate a 50% discount on the plane tickets with thanks to Ariana Afghan Airlines and vice president, Ahmad Shah Ahmad Zai.

Mansoor left Kabul on 1st April accompanied by his mother and maternal uncle, Rasool Khan Yousufi. Yousufi was able to serve as a translator and guide while in India. They were met at the Delhi airport by Afghan doctor Bahauddin Baha and fellow humanitarian, Sipra Narula, who, like Farhad Zaheer, is dedicated to serving the needs of underprivileged people by facilitating medical help. Baha and Narula helped the family to arrange for their train transportation and Narula contributed the cost of the family’s train tickets plus additional spending money.

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Mansoor preparing to return to Afghanistan – 16 April 2017

Mansoor’s surgery was delayed for a few days while he was admitted to a private hospital to be treated for a fever that he developed on the trip. At 9:00am on 9 April, Mansoor underwent surgery. It was successfully completed in under three hours by the doctors and caring staff at Sri Sathya Sai Heart Hospital. His recovery progressed without problems. Mansoor’s uncle, Rasool Khan Yousufi, was impressed by the kindness and generosity of the Indian people.

On 16 April, a smiling and rosy-cheeked Mansoor returned to Afghanistan. His father, Inamullah Saqib, said he will never forget the favor of all the people who helped Mansoor to receive this surgery. He is thankful to Allah and prays for the prosperity and happiness for all who helped. He continued, “As Mansoor’s father, I will always encourage my son to be educated and become a professional man in any field that he loves. I want him to serve humanity, like he was served, regardless of gender, country, tribe and faith.” Mansoor’s mother wishes she could invite all the donors and volunteers for a home-cooked meal. She said, “All of them will be in my thoughts and prayers, especially Mr. Ahmadzai, in whose memory the fundraising was done for my son.”

Through the kindness and generosity of strangers all around the world, Mustafa Ahmadzai’s dreams were honored and young Mansoor has an opportunity for a long, healthy and productive life.


Mustafa Ahmadzai Memorial Service – University of Toronto, 13 April 2017

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