Open-heart surgery opens hearts

Palestinian relatives of kids who had surgery improved views toward Israel.

organ transplant (photo credit: Courtesy)
organ transplant
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Although recent polls have shown that most Israeli Jews would not want an Israeli Arab for a neighbor, a new survey reports that a majority of them believe that when Israeli surgeons perform free open-heart operations on Palestinian children, this act of charity improves the trust and connections between the two peoples. The Save A Child's Heart organization based at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon commissioned a survey by the Ma'agar Mohot organization headed by Prof. Yitzhak Katz that looked into the effects that their life-saving operations have on both Israelis and Palestinians. Since the voluntary organizations of physicians was founded by Dr. Ami Cohen in 1995, its members have performed operations on 1,900 children around the world, many of them Palestinians. Funding comes from the European Union's Partnership for Peace organization. The pollsters‚ questioning of Palestinian relatives of children who underwent free heart surgery at Wolfson, found that a vast majority "positively changed their opinions about Israel" as a result. They said that the good deed strengthened mutual trust between the two peoples. Eighty-eight percent of the relatives praised the level of medical care at Wolfson and warm contacts with the staff. When the general Palestinian public were asked whether the program brings Palestinians and Israelis closer together, they agreed. Most Israelis favor Palestinian children from Gaza and the West Bank being allowed to come to Israel hospitals for heart surgery and catheterizations and said it was better to do it here than in other countries. A majority of Israelis (80%) said it was right for Israeli surgeons and other hospital staffers to treat these Palestinian children well. About half of the representative sample of Palestinians polled knew of the Save A Child's Heart program. More than 80% of them were in favor of children from Gaza and the West Bank who needed heart surgery going to an Israeli hospital for treatment.