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Doctors Say Girl Needs Air Ambulance for U.S. Operation

WTVF-TV in Nashville, Tennessee reports that the adoptive family of an Armenian girl is in need of an air ambulance flight to the United States for a critical operation. Getting an air ambulance could be the young girl’s only chance to survive.

Karine Hardin, an Armenian orphan who the Hardin family has just completed adopting after a two year long battle with red tape, has a congenital disorder called Spina Bifida. The cerebral shunt that she lives with to drain excess fluid from her brain has recently become infected, and she must undergo surgery by this Sunday to survive.

The infection occurred while she was waiting for her adoption to be finalized, after the process was delayed by the U.S. Embassy, according to the Hardin family. She has been staying at a hospital in her home country for the past 11 days, but the underfunded facility does not even have enough resources to provide her with adequate fluid or nutrition to help her get stronger.

Resources are so inadequate at Karine’s current hospital that the 4-year old girl weighs only 15 pounds. Doctors at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville, TN are reportedly aware of the girl’s situation and are standing by to treat her, if she can get there in time.

The doctors, however, are doubtful of Karine’s ability to survive a commercial flight. Her only hope may be to fly from Armenia to America via air ambulance.

Unfortunately, an air medical transport all the way from the other side of the world will cost the Hardin family $124,000.

Whether the Hardins can pay for the ambulance flight to America or not, the life-saving operation will still need to be performed. But, depending on what country the procedure is performed in, that could mean two very different things. Regardless of the high cost of the nearly 6,000-mile air medical transport, Karine’s new parents are firm that they do not want the surgery performed in her current hospital. Karine’s adoptive father, David Hardin, told Amanda Hara of WTVF-TV that if they don’t get their adopted daughter to the states by Saturday, the hospital in the area where she lives will perform the critical operation “without sterile equipment, without gloves, without basic soap to wash the surgeon’s hands.”

According to the family, the hospital that would perform the operation where Karine lives has no beds for X-rays, requiring her to be held by her arms against a wall while the X-ray is taken. They say there are no electrical systems for monitoring vital signs, no hot water supply or soap, and no towels or gloves in the intensive care unit. They add that Karine does not even have a written medical chart.

The fundamental problem in primary care in Armenia concerns access, which has become excessively difficult for a large percentage of the population because of the average Armenian’s inability to pay for health care bills. The lean health care programs that once existed collapsed following the country’s independence from the Soviet Union, and conditions today are reportedly worse than ever before. Even though doctors may be well trained, hospitals no longer receive adequate resources from the state and cannot make enough money to support patients or afford basic medical equipment.

Video from WTVF-TV Nashville

According to the British Medical Journal, hospitals in Karine’s homeland do not normally provide food (a complaint mentioned by the Hardin family), and even vulnerable inpatients continue to be responsible for providing their own meals. In addition, patients are responsible for paying for most of their own drugs.

The upcoming surgery will be Karine’s 5th operation in the last two years. The Hardins say that she has had to endure past surgeries without any kind of post-op pain medications. In order to have this critical operation in the U.S., they must fly Karine, who they’ve been struggling to bring to America for two years, here via air ambulance within the next 36 hours.

The Hardins have established a donation fund (the Karine John Hardin fund) at the Hendersonville, TN branch of Regions Bank. You can also find more information on the Hardins and their situation here.

Our thoughts are with Karine and her family. Whether it’s performed in her home country or in the United States, our hopes are that the operation is a success and that the procedure goes as well as possible.

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