Riley Hospital doctors volunteer over Thanksgiving to operate on children in Jordan

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Some Riley Hospital doctors are focused on giving this Thanksgiving holiday. They’re donating their time to children abroad.

Right now, they’re in the country of Jordan, performing life-changing operations.

“These are children who come from very desperate means,” said Dr. Mark Turrentine, a cardiothoracic surgeon with Riley Children’s Health.

This is Turrentine's and his team's 25th mission to Jordan.  We spoke with him and Dr. Tim Cordes over Skype between surgeries.

“We’re used to being able to go access healthcare and you can get things taken care of, that need to be taken care of. Over here, access is a problem. The ability for a health care facility to provide the service you may need is really restricted,” said Turrentine.

The Riley doctors will complete at least 10 surgeries in about a week's time, adding to the more than 400 heart surgeries for children in other countries they’ve already done. Riley International Heart Missions has served families in Jordan, Kampala, Uganda, Beijing and Beirut.

“A lot of hard work, but everyone here is so grateful and so supportive that everyone leaves here waiting to come back again the next time they can," said Cordes.

Out of the 400 cases, one story stands out. A little girl was barely alive when she arrived at the hospital for care.  She was selected randomly to be helped by the Riley doctors.

“The family somewhat left her in a hospital in Yemen because her family didn’t think she was going to survive,” Turrentine recalled.

Thankfully, this little girl survived. She was reunited with Turrentine this week. Now walking and acting like a normal child, she gave him a big hug to say thank you.

“That’s one of those rewards you get for coming over and helping those children,” said Turrentine.

All of the money donated goes directly to pay the direct hospital expenses.  You can see how to help and donate by clicking here.

“That all directly and indirectly benefits the children and the families back in Indiana,” said Turrentine.

These trips are made possible thanks to the collaboration of multiple Rotary clubs from Indiana and Amman, Rotary International, and Gift of Life programs with Chain of Hope London. The Riley doctors volunteer their time and talents. They aren't paid.

If you would like to keep up to date with the doctors, you can visit their blog.