baby care

The Israeli NGO “Save a Child’s Heart” operates on the heart of its 3,000th Palestinian child

The Israeli NGO "Save a Child's Heart" operates on the heart of its 3,000th Palestinian child

A baby boy from Gaza was brought to Wolfson Hospital in Holon on Sunday, where Israeli surgeons performed open-heart surgery to save his life. He was the 3,000th child from the Palestinian territories to undergo such an operation under the program set up by an Israeli NGO.

Amir Yichya Mabchuch, originally from Jabaliya, a town north of Gaza City, made the trip to Israel thanks to the Israeli non-profit organization Save a Child’s Heart which, since its founding in 1995, has helped more than 6,000 children coming from abroad with their families for life-saving surgeries.

These children came from more than 65 countries – mostly developing countries – many of which have no diplomatic ties with Jerusalem.

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When he was only two months old, a doctor told Mabchuch’s parents that their newborn had a heart failure. His mother, Maha, had brought him to the doctor’s office for a viral infection and the family doctor had noticed that one of the baby’s coronary arteries was blocked.

Amir at Wolfson Hospital in Holon, where doctors from the NGO Save a Child’s Heart operate on children from all over the world. (Credit: Tomer Noyberg/Save a Child’s Heart)

“We understood from the start that Amir would need surgery to cure this heart failure,” explains his mother.

The little boy was deprived of a normal, carefree childhood. He is not able to carry out simple tasks and is forbidden to run like other children of his age, or even to walk for a long time, the exercise of which could prove fatal for his fragile heart. He was placed under medical supervision throughout his life.

When Amir’s family found out about the opportunity for heart surgery in Israel during a visit to a doctor in Gaza, they didn’t hesitate.

“When the doctors told us that there was a possibility that Israeli doctors would perform the complicated surgery that Amir needed, we felt so happy! Everyone in Gaza talks about the quality of the Israeli doctors who are considered here as the most professional in the world, as doctors who can be completely trusted,” she adds.

Doctor Hagi Dekel prepares a Palestinian boy for heart surgery at Wolfson Hospital in Holon on November 21, 2022. (Tomer Noyberg/Save a Child’s Heart)

To bring Amir to Israel, Save a Child’s Heart submitted an application on his behalf and on behalf of the little boy’s family, claiming the right to enter Israel. The family, for its part, submitted a separate request to leave the territory to the Hamas terrorist group, which heads the enclave.

Life-saving surgeries carried out by the organization would not have stopped during the coronavirus pandemic, even though the number of Gazans allowed to enter the Jewish state for medical treatment had been drastically reduced at that time. to, it seems, prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Even before the pandemic, a significant number of requests to leave the territory of Gaza for medical treatment were explicitly rejected or not answered, implying that the persons concerned were unable to travel to possible medical appointments within the Jewish state.

According to the UN’s World Health Organization, about a third of the approximately 24,000 Gazans who had requested permission to leave Gaza in the year before the pandemic – including hundreds of people suffering from heart disease – didn’t get it.

A Save the Children aid distribution at a warehouse in the Gaza Strip, 2014. (Save the Children/YouTube)

Critics blame the poor medical care provided in the coastal enclave on the twin blockades imposed by Israel and Egypt in the aftermath of Hamas’ takeover of the strip in 2007.

Israel, for its part, claims that the restrictions put in place are aimed at preventing Hamas from bringing in weapons and materials needed to build fortifications, and that the blockade allows the import of medicines and other medical and humanitarian equipment. Critics blame the delivery verification processes, at the entrance to the enclave, of slowing down the supply chain, leading to shortages.

Little Amir’s operation was complicated and required the use of advanced technology not available in Gaza – but it went smoothly, says surgeon Hagi Dekel.

“The intervention aimed to remove an obstruction in the left ventricle. An obstruction of this type, if left untreated, can damage the valve and in the worst case it can lead to sudden death… The aortic valve has been opened and the thick tissue that obstructed the valve has been removed. successfully removed,” he says.

The deputy director of Save a Child’s Heart, Tamar Shapira, said the organization not only saves lives but also helps build bridges between Israelis and Palestinians.

“We have been saving the lives of Palestinian children for more than twenty years and I always say that in addition to saving lives, bringing hope to families, we also manage to build bridges between different peoples exclaims Shapira.

Amir’s family say they will return to Gaza feeling deep appreciation for the Israelis who stepped in to help Amir.

“I know there are still tensions between Gaza and Israel, but that doesn’t change my son’s story. I completely trust the Israeli doctors and I am convinced that they will save the life of my little boy,” Amir’s mother said just before the operation.

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