Palestinian Children Undergo Emergency Heart Surgery in Israel

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:12)

A three month old baby girl from Gaza underwent life-saving heart surgery Thursday morning through the program Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) at Wolfson Medical Center.

The little baby’s condition is extremely severe and without the needed heart surgery she would have not survived. Brought by Palestinian ambulance to the Erez Crossing, the baby was transferred to an Israeli ambulance and immediately brought to Wolfson Medical Center in Holon.

The Israeli team of doctors and nurses at Wolfson were ready to receive the baby and give her the needed medical attention immediately upon her arrival.

Simultaneously, two Palestinian children from the West Bank underwent open heart surgeries at the hospital. The two arrived to Wolfson on Tuesday and were diagnosed during the SACH free weekly clinic for Palestinian children. Seven children came to the Tuesday clinic, among them two additional children from the Gaza Strip.

SACH is an Israeli-based international humanitarian project whose mission is to improve the quality of pediatric cardiac care for children from developing countries who suffer from heart disease and to create centers of competence in these countries. SACH is totally dedicated to the idea that every child deserves the best medical treatment available, regardless of the child’s nationality, religion, color, gender or financial situation.

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Tamar Shapira, Director of International and Public Relations for the program, told Breaking Israel News: “We bring children from developing countries all around the world to receive treatment at Wolfson Hospital, in Holon. In addition to that we also train doctors, nurses and technicians to do complex heart procedures on children so that they can go back to their home countries and do the surgeries there. China, one of the first places we partnered with, has been one of our success stories, and the physicians there have been performing complex surgeries on children for over two years now.”

Shapira expanded on the program’s humanitarian work internationally.

“We currently have over 80 doctors and nurses, who have gone all over the world wherever we have medical partnerships and help our partners set up a system that can work on a long term basis,” she said. “The countries we work with the most are, Ethiopia, Zanzibar, and China.”

When asked if there was something unique about these particular operations on three Palestinian children simultaneously, Shapira answered by saying there isn’t.

“Since 1996, when we first opened, we’ve treated over 3,400 children from all over the world, over half of those were Palestinian children from both Gaza and the West Bank. We have also trained more than 100 doctors, nurses and technicians, including Palestinians, who then go back and work in the hospitals in their home countries which of course also include Gaza and the West Bank,” Shapira explained. “Our belief is that no child, no matter where they are in the world should be without proper medical treatment especially for heart issues.”

This story is yet another instance of Israel going above and beyond the call of duty, and saving the lives of the children caught in the middle of conflict and war. From what Shapira tells us it is a run-of-the-mill occurrence, something that happens everyday in Israel.