Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Another rescue: Blackwater and Marines save sick little Iraqi girl

A little Iraqi girl with a fatal heart defect has better prospects of survival after a cooperative effort between the US Marines and Blackwater to evacuate her from al Anbar province to a hospital in Nashville.

The Marines discovered three year-old Amina Al'a Thabit during a "routine meet and greet" patrol in Haditha, and recognized from bluish features on her face that she suffered a serious heart disorder.

Amina has a number of heart-related birth defects, including an inability to oxygenate her own blood. No facility in Iraq could help her.

“The first day we saw her we thought she was the cutest girl,” said Sgt. Bryan C. Velasquez, 23, a Company L squad leader from Houston. “We just fell in love with her.”

The Marines raised $30,000 in private funds, mainly from Blackwater Worldwide, which also covered the costs of transporting her to Nashville. Neither the Marines story nor the Los Angeles Times blog that covered the story mentioned the company, though a report in the Orange County Register of California did.

"The Marines, in conjunction with numerous government agencies, initiated an effort dubbed 'Operation Amina,' to transport the girl and her mother stateside. The travel and related costs were financed by private donors, the release said," according to the Orange County Register, whose report was picked up by MSNBC. "The battalion raised $30,000 to fly them to the US via Jordan with the assistance of a US medical team and extensive cooperation from Blackwater Worldwide, the hospital said."

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