Girl from Myanmar undergoes cardiac surgery in Israel

Eight-year-old Hannah had to be granted a special permit to fly to Israel for treatment because of civil war in Myanmar.

 Hannah with Morris Kahn. (photo credit: YOSSI ZELIGER)
Hannah with Morris Kahn.
(photo credit: YOSSI ZELIGER)

Hannah, an eight-year-old girl from Myanmar was successfully brought to Israel and underwent a life-saving heart operation this week through the Save a Child's Heart organization.

Hannah was born eight years ago with a life-threatening heart syndrome. Three years ago, at the age of five, she underwent cardiac surgery in Wolfson Medical Center that required her to return for another operation. This was made difficult, however, when a civil war broke out in Myanmar, and flights in and out of the country were stopped.

Save a Child's Heart conducted an operation to extract Hannah from Myanmar and bring her to Israel.

"The only people allowed out of Myanmar are diplomats and exceptional cases," explained Sarah Nevo, a representative from the organization. "We turned to the Israeli embassy in Myanmar and got a special permit for an extraction flight to Dubai for Hannah and her father. From there, they continued on to Israel."

Another obstacle arose on the night of the flight. Hannah's father phoned Nevo to tell her that he was being barred from boarding the flight because he didn't have COVID-19 insurance which was essential for entry to Dubai.

Executive Director of Save a Child's Heart Simon Fisher (credit: THE ABRAHAMIC BUSINESS CIRCLE)Executive Director of Save a Child's Heart Simon Fisher (credit: THE ABRAHAMIC BUSINESS CIRCLE)

"We managed to sort it out in the middle of the night, and in the end the two boarded the plane and arrived in Israel," said Nevo.

From the airport, Hannah and her father were taken directly to the hospital where Dr. Lior Sasson and Dr. Hagai Dekel were waiting for them to begin preparations for the surgery which went well. 

Hannah is currently recovering in a rehabilitation center in Holon.

"This is the second time we operated on Hannah, but this time, we didn't know until the last moment if she would make it to the operation," said Sasson. "We were so excited and happy to see her and the joy on her face. I've never seen a child so happy to arrive to a surgery. This is the reality of these children who need to cross continents to receive life-saving medical care."

Funding for the flight and the operation came from Morris Kahn who has taken a large part in the organization since it was founded.

"Hannah's story is emotional and touching," said Kahn. "After being treated in Israel a few years ago, she needed another treatment, and we immediately rose to the challenge in order to bring her to Israel and take care of her. Hannah's joy after the surgery said it all. It was my privilege and honor to take part in this operation and know that she's going back home healthy."