Dying Afghan Girl Leaves Country for Surgery Adila, a young Afghan girl with a life-threatening heart defect, has been dispatched to Pakistan, where it is hoped she will undergo emergency surgery. But some worry she won't survive the trip.
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Dying Afghan Girl Leaves Country for Surgery

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Dying Afghan Girl Leaves Country for Surgery

Dying Afghan Girl Leaves Country for Surgery

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ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

And I'm Melissa Block.

Now, a development in one of the stories we brought you yesterday. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reported on a 6-year-old Afghan girl with a lethal heart defect.

Members of the U.S. Army had promised her medical help, which never came through. The girl was then sent to a French hospital in the Afghan capital of Kabul. Well, yesterday, she set off on a trip to Pakistan for surgery that could save her life. Here's Soraya with this update.

NELSON: The French Medical Institute for Children here says they discharged 6-year-old Adila after talking with the U.S. military. The officials say the Army, having found an anonymous donor, is arranging corrective surgery for her in Pakistan.

But her cardiologist in Kabul, as well as doctors at the Aga Khan hospital in Karachi, where she is to get the surgery, are worried how the girl will fare on her trip.

Her taxi trip across the border, paid for privately by U.S. soldiers, began this afternoon. Her uncle and guardian who is with her say they arrived safely in Peshawar in northwestern Pakistan a short while ago. He adds that he's since been told to fly with Adila commercially to Karachi tomorrow. And that soldiers would again dig into their pockets to cover the cost. Doctors say it's dangerous for Adila to travel by road because she has no immediate access to oxygen.

A U.S. military spokesman says that they can't legally fly her in one of their helicopters, especially to another country. Her uncle says she fell ill again Monday night during the first part of her journey. The American spokesman says Adila spent the night resting comfortably at a medical facility on a U.S. base in eastern Afghanistan.

Adila suffers from a birth defect called tetralogy of Fallot. Her heart is malformed and unable to get enough oxygen to her body. A U.S. Army doctor at an outpost in northeastern Afghanistan sought to arrange surgery for Adila through a charity in Israel. But a series of missteps left the girl stranded in Kabul last week.

In the end, her weakened condition led doctors in the U.S. military to seek out surgery for her in Pakistan. Aga Khan hospital's Dr. Naved Ahmed says when Adila arrived in Karachi, they will run tests before setting her surgery date.

Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR News, Kabul.

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