The story of Mazen, age 11, from Gaza is a story of doctors working across borders to save children’s hearts, advanced medical technology making life-saving treatment safer and faster, and how one child can represent hope for thousands more. In December 2021, Mazen became the 6,000th child treated by Save a Child’s Heart.
From his first month of life, doctors knew Mazen, the youngest of three children, would need multiple interventions to correct his congenital heart condition. He underwent surgery at just two months in Jerusalem, but they did not repair a hole left in his heart. As he grew older, it became more difficult to breathe, to play tennis and basketball - sports he loves. He needed another life-saving procedure. Fast.
Mazen was referred to Save a Child's Heart by two partner cardiologists, Dr. Abdalraheem Said and Dr. Hany Al Faleet at European Gaza Hospital. The two doctors are responsible for screening all Gazan pediatric cardiac patients located in the southern area of Gaza. They see about two to three critical cases each month which need emergency intervention and cases have been piling up during COVID. There are no centers for interventional cardiac treatment in Gaza and the burden of cases has been made worse by border closures due to the pandemic.
Dr. Al Faleet shared with us:
A major challenge for us is that we are not only responsible for ‘doing the medicine’ but for the coordination, for helping patients cross borders for care.
In Israel, Mazen was treated at the new Save a Child's Heart International Pediatric Cardiac Center and Sylvan Adams Children's Hospital. There, he was first screened by Dr. Alona Raucher Sternfeld, Director of Pediatric Cardiology, and then treated in the catheterization lab by Dr. Sagi Assa, Head of the Interventional Pediatric Cardiac Unit, accompanied by Dr. Hanita Shai. In the Cath Lab, Dr. Assa and his team are pioneering the use of closure devices that make complex cardiac catheterization procedures to close holes in the heart possible without the need for open-heart surgery. The Save a Child's Heart International Pediatric Cardiac Center and Sylvan Adams Children's Hospital is the only institution in Israel performing this procedure on cases such as Mazen's.
Mazen’s father, Khalil thanks the medical team for their attention and care:
We are so thankful to Save a Child’s Heart and the entire medical team for repairing Mazen’s heart and giving him a second chance at life. We will never forget what you did for our family.