Sunday, June 25, 2006

Plan, ship, plan, ship ... it becomes a routine

I'm essentially acting as a communications liaison and funding source for the hospital in organizing these shipments. No other major sources of funding have materialized so far although a few of myfriends and correspondents have chipped in from time to time. Also, the folks in Mosul report they identified a local source for Natulan (cyclophosphamide) this month and found a source for funding so they asked me to send increased quantities of Vincristine and Adriamycin (doxorubicin).

Every month the routine is the same. Contact the hospital and see what they want within the limits of the available funds, verify the prices and shipping costs with Ameristat, transfer the funds to Ameristat for the shipment, track the shipment, verify that the drugs reached the hospital, and start over. So far it has worked 5 times (twice last year, three shipments this year) and the sixth shipment is in the works and will probably reach the hospital in mid-July.

Of course there is the problem of paying for it all. I've been fortunate this year. Last year I spent a lot of money and effort repairing three rental houses I own. This year I have tenants in all three houses, so I'm able to apply that rental income to the shipments. Additionally I'm pulling in social security this year. Theoretically it should be enough to cover the shipments, but my credit card balance has been swelling ominously and it seems every unforseeable expense and it's brother is descending on me to try to disrupt the project. The air conditioner on my house went out and had to be replaced, my step daughter needed a new car after hers was impounded for implausible but highly entertaining reasons, some idiot destroyed my pickup truck parked at the curb in the middle of the night by ramming it with his own vehicle, the tenant at one rental house is out of work and the rent is delayed, etc, etc, etc.

I remain intent on sending shipments each month, but I am not sure how long I can maintain this series of shipments given the series of unpredictable and unavoidable expenses that seem to piling up on me.

Ultimately, even if I can maintain the current shipment series on a monthly basis it will not fill the hospital's needs and the hospital's patients will continue to suffer.

Others can help by sending donations to LIFE as described in my previous post ( ). Alternatively, they can help by directing others to this blog and spreading word of this project.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Another shipment arrives at the hospital.

The hospital's internet service is out again (no email) but I was able to confirm by telephone that another shipment reached the hospital June 12th, 2006. Deliveries of chemotherapy drugs by Kimadia, the hospital's normal source of supply, remain essentially zero this year, much worse than last year. All the drugs in the shipments I am sending are used up before the next shipment arrives, and the hospital has no reserve inventory at all. Yet what I am able to send is only a small fraction of what is needed.

The contents of the current shipment were the same as the last:
20 50-mg vials Adriamycin (also called Doxorubicin)
25 2-mg vials Vincristine
30 1000mg vials Cyclophosphamide (also called Endoxan)

This packing list is in no way random or arbitrary, it is what the doctors at the hospital report is the best use of the of the available funds, what will save the most lives. I rely on their judgenent and ship what they ask for based on the money available each month.

Correction: I went back and checked, and this shipment was actually somewhat different from the previous one, which included 10 more vials of doxorubicin than this shipment.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Introducing LIFE



I wrote in a recent post about developing a cooperative relationship with an established charity so donations made to support the Mosul hospital would be properly tax deductible. I would now like to introduce that organization: Life for Relief and Development, or “LIFE” for short ( on the web at ).

I first became aware of LIFE when trying to solicit donations of chemotherapy drugs directly from pharmaceutical manufacturers. I found that manufacturers were unwilling to make charitable donations except to official, properly recognized charities (which I was not), but that more than one manufacturer reported making donations to a charity called Americares ( on the web at ). Contacting Americares, I learned that their support to Iraq is channeled through LIFE and I was referred to their contact at LIFE. I learned that LIFE has managed numerous shipments to Iraq although their usual shipping methods were not well suited to transporting chemotherapy drugs that need refrigeration. I consider the confidence placed in Americares by multiple pharmaceutical manufacturers a strong confirmation of Americares’ legitimacy and trustworthiness: Americares is a totally legitimate organization. I consider Americares’ choice of LIFE as a partner to be a strong vote of confidence in LIFE.

Needing a way to channel donations to the hospital though a reputable and officially recognized charity I approached LIFE and they agreed to set up an earmarked account for this purpose. To verify the workability of this arrangement I tested it by sending the funds for my most recent shipment to LIFE and letting them in turn deliver payment for the shipment to Ameristat (the wholesale pharmacy that actually ships the drugs). Although we encountered a few glitches they were quickly resolved and it worked. The drugs will be sent in two parts, one package shipping from Germany this coming Tuesday and one package shipping from Minnesota on Monday. LIFE will be kept informed of the shipment’s progress via FedEx tracking numbers, email confirmations by helpers along the way, and photographic evidence of arrival at the hospital’s front door and proper storage in the hospital’s refrigerator.

If anyone would like to help by donating to this project to support future shipments, here is how to do it.

First, be aware that you must carefully tell LIFE that your donation is for the "Mosul Hospital Account" if you want it to be applied to sending supplies to the hospital. Mark this on your check and/or in a cover letter if you mail a check, and mention it carefully to the person on the phone if you make a donation via credit card over the phone. Although LIFE has an automated web payment system for donations it is not yet possible to route donations to this specific account over the web, so make donations intended for the hospital only by mail or by phone. If you do not carefully indicate that your donation is intended for the "Mosul Hospital Account" your donation will not be earmarked for the hospital!

You can
(1) Call 1-800-827-3543 and ask for:
Mr. Jehad Al Qalyubi (Ext 7223) (NO LONGER WITH ORGANIZATION)


( I have verified that these two folks know of this new account and they can take your credit card information over the phone. Be sure to explain that the donation is for the Mosul Hospital Account. ) SEE NOTATIONS IN RED ABOVE AND BELOW

At this point I am not sure how or if donations can be made through LIFE to support this project. My previous contacts there seem to have moved on to other jobs elsewhere, and I have not developed new contacts yet. To the best of my knowledge, all donations of which I am aware to LIFE's "Mosul Hospital Fund" by myself or others were properly accounted for and applied 100% to drugs and necessary FedEx shipping costs, including the 10% reserve originally intended to cover LIFE's overhead expenses related to this fund.

(2) Send your donation by mail to:
LIFE For Relief and Development
17300 W. 10 Mile Rd
Southfield, MI 48075
( Again, be sure to indicate that the donation is for the Mosul Hospital Account )

Friday, June 02, 2006

On becoming a salesman...

I am not a salesman, I am not a people person, I am an engineer. My idea of persuading somebody of something is to do the math and hand them a written report, not to schmooze or cozy up to them and try to be their buddy. Yet I am faced with the need to recruit others to help the hospital get what it needs to save lives. I need to pitch the project, I need to explain the need, define the benefits of committing the money, make people understand the importance of helping.

To me the math is pretty simple. Take a hospital that gets one or two thousand new cancer patients a year. Subtract from that hospital the drugs that it needs to treat those patients. What you get is dead patients.

In Mosul and the surrounding territory, the government-run Mosul Oncology and Nuclear Medicine Hopital is the primary source of treatment for cancer patients. The supply system it depends on for drugs is not working well at all - requisitions are not filled or only partially filled, deliveries are unpredictable and erratic, and the drugs that are recieved are sometimes near the expiration of their labeled shelf life.

I've proved that it IS possible to deliver chemotherapy drugs to the hospital by doing it. It's not easy, it's not cheap, and the logistics is complicated, but it CAN be done, it IS being done. The sticking point is money. The quantities I can personally afford to send are NOT sufficient to meet the needs of the hospital and it's patients.

Currently I'm plowing all my excess income into this project. This is about enough to send one shipment a month of the most needed drugs. If I can persuade others to help fund this project, then additional shipments can be sent each month (perhaps one a week) and larger shipments could be sent.

I'm working on arrangements to channel funds through an established charity and in fact the funds for my current shipment-in-progress were channeled through that charity (I sent em the money and they paid for the shipment). The advantage of doing this is the donation will be tax deductible. I haven't worried too much so far about tax deductions, but I've discovered that others do sometimes.

More later - it's past 3AM here and I'm getting too sleepy to write coherently.