- Do you know any Israeli organizations that do humanitarian work in other countries?
- Have you heard about the organization Save a Child’s Heart?
Save A Child’s Heart
Millions of children from around the world are born with heart defects that, unless treated, are deadly by the age of 20. Thousands of children from poor countries die because they don’t have access to treatment. Save A Child’s Heart is hoping to solve that problem, one child at a time. SACH is an organization that gives medical care for children suffering from heart issues, and who cannot get the help they need in their home country. Its mission is also to build centers around the world that practice SACH’s training program and make healthcare available to more and more people. SACH saves a child’s life every 29 hours, and so far, more than 4000 children from over 50 countries have had a second chance at life.
Patients come from all over the world, including: Nigeria, Sudan, Kenya, China, Syria, Vietnam, and more. About 50% of the children come from the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Iraq and Morocco. The Israeli organization aims to save as many kids as they can, no matter their political, cultural, religious, or racial views, but that doesn’t come cheap. The total cost to save a child is $41,000, including travel, room and board, the surgery, and medical treatment at the Wolfson Medical Center and Legacy Heritage Children’s Home of Save a Child’s Heart in Holon.
Jana, is just one person the organization has saved. Minutes after Jana was born, she was diagnosed with a heart condition and four days later, the infant from Ramallah was sent to Wolfson Medical Center. Doctors from her town were unable to help her because they didn’t have the technology to perform her surgery. Despite the complicated politics between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Israel allows many children just like Jana to come to their hospitals and get the help they need. Jana had heart surgery within days of arriving to Wolfson Medical Center, and was able to return home healthy and happy after four days. Thanks to the organization, Jana and her parents received her operation at an incredible discount. In Israel, the surgery alone is around $20,000 (not including other medical costs which could reach up to $40,000-50,000), but SACH along with other generous donors manage to save lives for $15,000.
There are many stories just like Jana’s. Adamo, a fourteen-year-old boy had a heart disease that created pressure in his heart and made it hard to breathe. After a successful surgery, he went back to Ethiopia and could keep up and play with all the other children his age. While most of the surgeries are performed in Holon, some are done by doctors trained by the SACH organization in the child’s home country.
Being a doctor isn’t easy, especially when it comes to taking care of sick children. Dr. Sagi Assa is a children’s heart doctor who works for SACH. For him, treating children is the most important part of his job. He does not pay attention to where his patients are from or even who their parents are.
“I can tell you that before I had kids it was great treating children,” Brosh recalls, “but when you have your own kids and you see a kid lying on a bed and he is the same age as your healthy child at home, it is difficult. A child is a child is a child. I don’t look at his parents or his [political] leaders. A sick child needs to be treated. End of story. That’s it.”
These doctors sacrifice time with their family and friends, living away from their home country, and learning how to adapt in a new environment. Many of the doctors at Wolfson finish their overseas fellowships before teaching other doctor’s trained by SACH and are paid by various private donors through SACH, but others like Dr. Alona Raucher-Sternfeld, have more experience treating patients. Even though she’s been practicing medicine for years, Raucher-Sternfeld still has life-changing experiences with her patients. After performing surgery on one of her patients (a Syrian girl named Nadrah), the doctor felt emotional because the team had given the child a chance at a normal life, where she would be able to go to school, play certain sports, and probably have children of her own someday. “We’re medical professionals, true, but we’re still humans, still touched by human stories. This gives me hope for the future. I hope this is the beginning of true cooperation between our peoples, both medically and politically,” she said.
With so many children who need help, how does SACH choose who to treat? The organization partners with dozens of countries and each country creates a list of 75-100 patients, and sends the list and the child’s medical records to the organization’s offices in Israel. Then, a team of doctors travel to the country to see every patient on the list for a checkup and decide which children need to be operated on first. SACH isn’t just important because they save lives. Through terrible situations, the organization brings people of all backgrounds and religions together to show that we’re all human at the end of the day. Thanks to SACH, doctors are turning conflict into understanding and compassion.
**all information (unless linked) was taken from http://www.saveachildsheart.com/global/our-projects/current-projects/ipcc/
- Dilemmas that doctors might face.
- Should Israel help treat Palestinian children when we’re in conflict with them.
“Charity begins at home. (עניי עירך קודמים) is a proverb that expresses the demands of taking care of one’s family, before caring for others.
Do you think that charity begins at home should be taken as a guiding principle in the case of SACH’s humanitarian efforts?