April 13, 2017

This morning, making my rounds of the breakfast tables, I had the following (paraphrased, I don’t have a photographic memory) conversation with Sami Diab:

“We had a patient (at Azraq camp) that we couldn’t help with our materials. He was an elderly gentleman, and he already had a set of dentures that were broken. He couldn’t eat well without them, and we couldn’t make him new ones. So we improvised.”

“What did you do?”

“Kiumars and I went out to the main strip to see if we could fix them. It was difficult – I know Arabic, but I don’t know the words for ‘hardware store!’ But finally we found a place where we could buy some epoxy. When we get back tomorrow, we’re going to try and repair the dentures with it.”

Today, I saw our team hit full force. I saw it when we made up for our lack of a dermatologist by taking up SAMS volunteer Dr. Aisha Sethi on her generous offer of telemedicine. Using WhatsApp, several volunteers took pictures of refugees’ concerning skin lesions and sent them to Aisha for review before she started her day as a dermatologist at the University of Chicago. She plowed through all the pictures – this one’s a virus, this is scabies, that needs to be removed – even while carrying on with her busy schedule.

I saw it when Dr. Tarif Bakdash went to Irbid to give a Grand Rounds presentation to Jordanian medical students and physicians on pediatric neurology – the first time that SAMS has expanded its appreciation of Jordan not just to its patients in need, but also to its future physicians.

I continue to see it every day when the surgical teams return from a long day in the ORs, helping to change the lives of refugees who had no other place to turn to for care.

And I saw it in my own clinic today in Sweileh, when I persuaded the generous clinic staff to give a treatment of nebulized albuterol to a child with aggressive bronchiolitis. One of our SAMS nurses came in to administer the treatment that opened up the child’s constricted lungs, while I continued to see almost 60 patients over 7 hours.

The past five days have been intense, exhausting, frustrating – and yet exhilarating. Tonight, almost half the team took up a fellow volunteer’s offer of a traditional Bedouin delicacy – mensaf – at her family’s farm near Amman for dinner, while the planning task force went out for a well-deserved dinner at a local restaurant. We’ve forged and strengthened bonds with colleagues over a cause we now believe in passionately. It seems too soon to end.

Tomorrow is our last day. Thank you for your support.

In Peace,


Pediatrician Dr. Jihad Shoshara is leading the current SAMS Medical Relief mission to Jordan from April 7 – April 14. The mission will provide care to Syrian refugees and the local Jordanian community, focusing on pediatric orthopedics and neurosurgery, a first time for our Jordan missions. We will be providing 50 surgeries in just five days. Dr. Jihad Shoshara, a pediatrician from Chicago, will be sharing live updates with us every day.