Save a Child’s Heart organization wins prestigious U.N. award

To date, SACH has saved the lives of more than 4,500 children with congenital heart defects.

April 3, 2018 16:29
2 minute read.
Save a Child’s Heart organization wins prestigious U.N. award

SACH courtesy photo shows Dr. Lior Sasson with child from Romania after undergoing surgery. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Although the United Nations Security Council has tried to condemn Israel for its efforts to deal with incursions from Gaza, the UN Population Fund has announced it is giving the 2018 Population Award to the Save a Child’s Heart organization at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon.

To date, SACH has saved the lives of more than 4,500 children with congenital heart defects. The children have come from Africa, South America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, including the Palestinian Authority. The organization has performed the operations free of charge at the government hospital and in some hospitals abroad, while training more than 150 medical personnel in these places.

Each year, the Committee for the UN Population Award honors an individual or institution for outstanding contributions to issues of population and reproductive health and to their solutions.

The award was established by the UN General Assembly in 1981 and was first presented in 1983. It consists of a gold medal, a diploma and a monetary prize.

SACH’s goal is to improve the quality of medical care for children with heart disease from developing countries and to create skilled treatment centers in these countries. The organization was founded at the Holon facility in 1995 by Dr. Amram Cohen, a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon. It aims at bettering the health and welfare of all children, regardless of their nationality, religion, color, gender or financial situation.

Save a Child’s Heart holds preoperative and follow up cardiology clinics in Israel and abroad on a weekly basis. It offers a comprehensive training program in Israel for doctors and nurses from developing countries and leads surgical and teaching missions to partner countries.

Cohen immigrated to Israel from the United States in 1992. He joined the staff of the Wolfson Medical Center and served as its deputy chief and then director of pediatric cardiovascular surgery. The organization came into being when an Ethiopian doctor contacted Cohen after being referred to him by a mutual friend at the University of Massachusetts. He asked for Cohen’s help with two children in desperate need of heart surgery, which in fact saved their lives.

Cohen died almost 17 years ago from altitude sickness in a tragic accident while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, but SACH continued. Dr. Lior Sasson currently directs it at Wolfson.

Cohen once said, “I am convinced that for the vast majority of people who chose cardiothoracic surgery as a profession, idealism was initially a strong factor. For those of you who are reading this and just starting out, hold fast to your ‘day-after’ vision because if it fades, despite all the skills acquired, there will be something missing. For those who are searching, join us and together let us make the network to help children with heart disease globally, big enough to be equal to the task. There is work for everybody. There are no dollars and cents in it, but it is worth a fortune.”

Save a Child’s Heart is currently building a children’s hospital that will be named the Sylvan Adams Children’s Hospital. It will serve as a SACH International Pediatric Cardiac Center and significantly improve conditions for the children of Holon, south Tel Aviv, Jaffa and Bat Yam.

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