Israeli-Arab teen with heart disease meets Messi thanks to Make-A-Wish

About a year and a half ago, Arafa Hwamdeh suffered complete heart failure and is now living with an artificial heart. 

CEO of Make-A-Wish Israel Denise Bar-Aharon (left) with Lionel Messi (center) and Arafa Hwamdeh (right) (photo credit: Make-A-Wish)
CEO of Make-A-Wish Israel Denise Bar-Aharon (left) with Lionel Messi (center) and Arafa Hwamdeh (right)
(photo credit: Make-A-Wish)

Arafa Hwamdeh, an Israeli-Arab 17-year-old from Beersheba suffering from heart disease, was able to meet his hero Lionel Messi on Tuesday thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

About a year and a half ago, Hwamdeh suffered complete heart failure and is now living with an artificial heart. 

On Tuesday, Hwamdeh met with Messi and Neymar Jr. at the Dan Carmel Hotel in Haifa as both soccer stars were in Israel for the UEFA Champions League game. When Messi walked in the room, Hwamdeh told the Co-Founder and CEO of Make-A-Wish Israel Denise Bar-Aharon that he could "actually feel his heart beat with excitement."

Messi is a big supporter of Make-A-Wish and has granted many wishes for children with critical illnesses around the world.

 Paris St Germain's Lionel Messi in action with Maccabi Haifa's Josh Cohen (credit: REUTERS/NIR ELIAS) Paris St Germain's Lionel Messi in action with Maccabi Haifa's Josh Cohen (credit: REUTERS/NIR ELIAS)

What is his next wish?

Hwamdeh's next wish is to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation in Israel so that one day he can receive a heart transplant and play soccer again.