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American Doctors Treating 2 Afghan Children

May 2, 2006

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ Two Afghan children will undergo operations to correct heart defects in the coming days after a military doctor examined them while he was deployed in Afghanistan and arranged to get them medical care in the United States.

The children, 2-year-old Azad Kofi and 8-year-old Tamin Sarwari, flew to Jacksonville late Thursday night from Afghanistan with their fathers and an interpreter and spent Friday being evaluated at Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

The younger child has the most severe congenital heart condition and will be operated on Tuesday. He may also need additional surgery later. The older boy will have his surgery in about a week.

Dr. Ronald J. Renuart Sr., an internist and a colonel in the Florida National Guard, was in Afghanistan last October when he ran across the two children.

Both ``were in critical need of heart repair,″ he said at a news conference Monday.

Both of the boys, who live in a small town north of Kabul, have a bluish tinge because their hearts were not providing enough oxygen to their bodies. Most children in this country have surgery to correct similar defects while they are infants.

The boys, with bright eyes and smiles, sat quietly with their fathers on the front row at the news conference.

``They are happy to be here,″ said interpreter Abdul Matin. ``They appreciate the help.″

Northwest Airlines donated flights for the two children, their fathers and the interpreter. The medical services are being donated by the hospital and several doctors. The typical cost of the heart treatments is about $40,000, officials said.

The children are expected to remain in this country until the end of the month.

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