Israeli organizations to provide South Sudanese children with life-saving heart surgery

The children are being cared for in partnership with Israeli humanitarian aid organizations “Save a Child’s Heart” and “IsraAID."

 The children – Gai, 8, Habiba, 6, Phillip, 5, and Joel, 5 – arrived in Israel and will have surgery on December 21st. (photo credit: SAVE A CHILD'S HEART)
The children – Gai, 8, Habiba, 6, Phillip, 5, and Joel, 5 – arrived in Israel and will have surgery on December 21st.
(photo credit: SAVE A CHILD'S HEART)

Leading Israeli humanitarian aid organizations “Save a Child’s Heart” and “IsraAID” announced that they will provide life-saving surgeries to four children from South Sudan in Israel on Wednesday. 

The children – Gai, 8, Habiba, 6, Phillip, 5, and Joel, 5 – are already in the care of programs provided by IsraAID. They were diagnosed during a medical mission to South Sudan by Save a Child’s Heart on March 2019, when Save a Child’s Heart pediatric cardiologist Dr. Akiva Tamir and Israeli Ambassador to South Sudan Hanan Goder traveled to Al Sabah Children’s Hospital to screen and diagnose children with heart disease.

Once the children arrive in Israel, they will undergo heart surgery by the Save a Child’s Heart medical team at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon. The children and their guardians will stay at the Save a Child’s Heart Children’s Home for several months as they undergo and recover from surgery.

 Save a Child's Heart's facility in South Sudan. (credit: SAVE A CHILD'S HEART) Save a Child's Heart's facility in South Sudan. (credit: SAVE A CHILD'S HEART)

South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis

South Sudan, the world’s youngest country, was formed in 2011. Two years later, the country entered a brutal civil war. Due to environmental disasters and armed conflict, there are over 2 million internally displaced people in South Sudan and another 10.26 million South Sudanese refugees worldwide.

“When I first spoke to the President of South Sudan about the initiative to bring children to Israel for life-saving heart surgery, he was very enthusiastic, but I was not sure if it would actually come about. But through the excellent cooperation of Save a Child's Heart and IsraAID, working together with the Ministry of Health in South Sudan, it is happening,” Israel’s Ambassador to South Sudan, Gershon Kedar, said.

Founded in 2001, IsraAID has developed into Israel’s leading non-profit humanitarian relief organization. IsraAID originally launched its mission to the country in 2011, where its local team of South Sudanese humanitarian experts focus on child protection, preventing and responding to gender-based violence, and promoting sexual and reproductive health. 

“I hope and trust that this will be the first group of many that will come to Israel. This initiative complements the Ministry of Foreign Affairs work in the health sector in South Sudan, including the building and outfitting of the first modern emergency unit at the Juba Teaching Hospital, and the recent training course for doctors and nurses,” Kedar added.

Save a Child’s Heart works internationally to save the lives of children from countries where access to pediatric cardiac care is limited or nonexistent. To date, the organization saved more than 6,000 children from 65 countries – South Sudan will become the 66th country the organization has operated in. 

“We are very excited to see these children arrive in Israel after such a long wait. IsraAID’s offer to help has been a true game changer and we look forward to finding more joint projects for our organizations to work together on around Africa,” Save a Child’s Heart Executive Director Simon Fisher said.