Carmel doctor repairs heart defects in native Jordan


By Desiree Williams

Five Riley Hospital physicians donated their time and expertise last month to perform life-changing surgeries on children in Amman, Jordan. The surgeons performed 10 operations to repair defects from congenital heart disease.   

Dr. Samer Abu-Sultaneh with a girl in Amman, Jordan, who had heart surgery. (Submitted photo)

The five-day visit was the Riley International Heart Missions’ 25th trip to Jordan. The team has already operated on more than 400 children in China, Uganda, Lebanon and Jordan.

It was only the third trip for Dr. Samer Abu-Sultaneh as part of the Riley team, but he was no stranger to Jordan. Abu-Sultaneh was born in Jordan and attended medical school at Jordan University of Science and Technology. He moved to the U.S. in 2006 to continue his education before joining Riley in 2012 as a pediatric intensive care physician.

Abu-Sultaneh, a Carmel resident, said he was inspired to join the mission to give back to the people who trained him and provide resources to children who might not have access to proper health care. He said 80 percent of the children who meet the criteria for the program are refugees from Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

“With Dr. (Mark) Turrentine and his work, it was a golden opportunity for us to participate in that and help the kids there and just try to give a little bit back to our home country,” Abu-Sultaneh said.

He also said having someone on the team who understands the language and culture of the location is crucial to building trust and rapport with the patients.

“These kids don’t have money to do surgeries and they don’t even have surgeons to do surgeries with a great outcome,” he said. “I think we are blessed with Dr. Turrentine and our supporters to give us the time to go to Jordan.”

The trips are made possible by the collaboration of rotary clubs and Gift of Life in Indiana and Amman, Chain of Hope London and Rotary International. All donations cover hospital expenses.

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