CPR Iraq rallies medical aid

Chris King drums up supplies for a surgeon friend.

Chris King fixes hearts daily, and now is helping to heal thousands of hearts at home and in Iraq.

The cardiac surgeon is raising supplies and funds for doctors working in the field in the war-torn nation now occupied by American troops.

“It seemed like we had to do something to support the people there,” King said, emphasizing that his organization is nonpartisan.

“This is just about doing the right thing, to ameliorate human suffering.”

The call came from fellow cardiac surgeon Dennis Nichols, who is serving as an army surgeon in the main Baghdad hospital, treating wounded soldiers and Iraqi civilians. King corresponded via email with Nichols, who told King of the difficult conditions there.

At first, Nichols put out a call for “scrubs,” the light garment worn during surgery. Since patients often lost their regular clothes when they were cut off by doctors treating wounds, men and women were being discharged from hospital in scrubs.

“What else do you need?” King asked.

The answer included international phone cards, T-shirts, socks, pajamas, hygiene items and small ditty bags for personal items for which there were no pockets in the hospital garments.

The reply from King, a Bainbridge resident, was to put out the call to colleagues at Harrison Memorial Hospital and his Bible study group at Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church.

The local military community joined in, too, and he was soon being handed checks and items, and in just two days raised 500 pounds of goods and $1,000.

The response made King think, “We need to harvest this good will and show Iraq that people care.”

That was the start of CPR Iraq, a faith-based, humanitarian nonprofit that King established just two months ago.

The organization headed by King will funnel needed items to U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians via Nichols’ hospital which has taken on the role of distribution point. Goods will be shipped to a military APO address going directly to the hospital.

In Winslow, Esther’s Fabric is distributing instructions on how to sew ditty bags for soldiers and is serving as a collection point for them.

Islander Patty Smith put together the instructions to make the little 10-by-8 inch drawstring bags with a velcro loop to secure watch or ring.

King says the goods are especially needed now as many aid organizations are pulling out due to kidnappings.

“I could empathize with him (Nichols) and really admired what he was doing,” King said, who had considered joining the reserves but held back because he has four young children at home.

King says Nichols, also a father with young children, bonded with his patients and would call the families of wounded soldiers or act as surrogate father to orphaned kids.

Part of CPR Iraq, for King, was to be able to support Nichols through this harrowing time. King says he can empathize with the mental anguish of treating injured children and then dealing with the parents.

“It’s draining,” he said.

King says the work for soldiers and people in Iraq is personally spiritually rewarding. The overwhelming response he has received seems like a confirmation of what he “needs to do.”

Starting in January, he will be making a push to help Iraqi children by sending Beanie Babies, new coloring books and crayons, school supplies, small AM radios with batteries and infant and children clothing.

Since CPR Iraq started, nearly 3,000 pounds of goods have been shipped.

Drop off goods for CPR Iraq at Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church or the Bainbridge Review. Send cash donations to help cover postage costs to the project, P.O. Box 2212, Bremerton, WA. For more information, see To act as a collection point for goods, email

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