Israeli NGO performs 5,555th lifesaving surgery on Palestinian toddler

"I was sure that my son was sick, that if he had access to the right treatment he could be healed," the child's mother said.

Mahmad seen pictured at Wolfson Medical Center after receiving treatment (photo credit: SACH)
Mahmad seen pictured at Wolfson Medical Center after receiving treatment
(photo credit: SACH)
Israeli humanitarian NGO Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) performed its 5,555th lifesaving procedure last Sunday, with some 50% of those procedures dedicated to treating Palestinian patients.
For its 5,555th procedure, the NGO treated a five-month-old Palestinian boy from Gaza, Mahmad, who - at two weeks of age - was brought to a local hospital after he started experiencing breathing issues, while separately being unable to gain weight - suffering from a life-threatening heart defect.
"I was sure that my son was sick, that if he had access to the right treatment he could be healed," his mother said.
The family was made aware of the SACH program by pediatric cardiologist Dr. Abdelrahim Azab, who is a trained partner of SACH. SACH not only brings children from the Palestinian territories and abroad to Israel for lifesaving treatments, it also trains doctors within these regions to perform the surgeries locally - who learn directly from Israeli health experts.
Mahmad was brought to Wolfson Medical Center in Holon for treatment, where he underwent surgery to save his life. He will most likely need to return to Wolfson for follow-up procedures.
"I felt so powerless before. I knew that I had to be an advocate for my son, and I was empowered by how important it was to give him the best life possible," Mahmad's mother said.
"That’s one of the many reasons I am so grateful to Save a Child’s Heart - they fought for my son’s life as hard as I did," she added. "We ourselves were dependent on others for their expertise, for their financial support as my husband is unemployed. Save a Child’s Heart gave us everything we needed. They are like family to me."
"Mahmad’s treatment has brought great joy and relief to my family. When a child is sick it’s not just the child who suffers. We are now able to live our life as one family with the comfort of knowing that our son will be able to grow up like other children," she concluded.
Head of the Interventional Pediatric Cardiology Unit at Wolfson Hospital Dr. Sagi Assa led Mahmad's surgery, with the assistance of his medical staff.
He said that the case of Mahmad represents the best of "what we do," bridging gaps across borders and lending a helping hand for the betterment of mankind.
"Save a Child's Heart is a global family and of course, we feel deeply connected to our closest neighbors. Being able to watch our Palestinian patients grow up before our eyes, like Ahmad, brings immeasurable joy and meaning to my life," Assa said.
SACH has so far treated children hailing from 62 countries in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Europe and South America as well as the Palestinian territories. SACH has also trained over 120 medical professionals from the aforementioned countries and was special consultative status by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (ECOSOC).
"Save a Child’s Heart exemplifies the true face of Israel, using our education, innovative spirit, and skills to provide lifesaving heart surgeries both in Israel, and in underdeveloped countries abroad, where SACH sets up field hospitals and trains local medical team members," said one of SACH's major benefactors, Sylvan Adams. "At its home base at the Wolfson Medical Center, SACH treats Palestinian children on a day-to-day basis, and children such as Mahmad are greeted by Arabic-speaking Israelis, and treated with humanity by a team dedicated to their health and well-being."
"SACH’s mission is guided by the Jewish imperative of tikun olam, improving the world, and I am very proud to be involved in this beautiful work," he concluded.
The Honorary Chairman of SACH Morris Kahn added: "Save a Child’s Heart is an organization I have been supporting for many years, identifying deeply with its humanitarian values."
"The organization brings a lot of pride to the State of Israel in normal times, but even more in such complicated times, when the medical team members are working day and night to treat Corona patients, and yet do not give up on their important mission to repair the world, to perform Tikun Olam by saving children's lives," he concluded.