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18-month-old Parvana Sulemanova gets laid out on the operating table. Just 17 pounds, she looks fragile, alone under the hot lights. Nurses cover her with white sheets, leaving only a rectangle of chest visible. Parvana has a congenital heart defect called tetralogy of Fallot, resulting in too little oxygen in her blood. Volunteer cardiac surgeon Chris Gilbert will insert a Gore-Tex tube—an emergency BT shunt—to improve circulation. <br />
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A saw groans as it cuts through Parvana’s sternum. The heart-lung machine pumps a steady beat, the anesthetic machine a beeping counterpoint. Using a clamp shaped like a car jack, Dr. Gilbert cranks open the chest. Parvana’s parents wait anxiously downstairs.<br />
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35 minutes in, something goes awry. The beeps get faster, shriller. Sweat trickles down Dr. Gilbert’s forehead. Parvana’s heart slows to 30 beats per minute. Her blood oxygen level falls so low that her heart could stop. Three to five percent of children do not survive this surgery without life-threatening complications. However, without surgery “virtually all of them would die,” says Dr. Gilbert later. One shot of adrenaline and Parvana stabilizes. After two hours, the shunt is in place and the OR is scrubbed for the next operation.<br />
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This photograph is part of Michael Forster Rothbart’s After Chernobyl documentary photography project.<br />
© Michael Forster Rothbart 2007-2013.<br />
www.afterchernobyl.com<br />
www.mfrphoto.com • 607-267-4893 • 607-436-2856<br />
34 Spruce St, Oneonta, NY 13820<br />
86 Three Mile Pond Rd, Vassalboro, ME 04989<br />
info@mfrphoto.com<br />
Photo by: Michael Forster Rothbart<br />
Date:  6/2009    File#:  Canon 20D digital camera frame 2919<br />
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18-month-old Parvana Sulemanova gets laid out on the operating table. Just 17 pounds, she looks fragile, alone under the hot lights. Nurses cover her with white sheets, leaving only a rectangle of chest visible. Parvana has a congenital heart defect called tetralogy of Fallot, resulting in too little oxygen in her blood. Volunteer cardiac surgeon Chris Gilbert will insert a Gore-Tex tube—an emergency BT shunt—to improve circulation.

A saw groans as it cuts through...
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