September 26, 2021

Hannah from Myanmar Returns

Hannah, or ‘Nana’ as her family calls her, is an eight-year-old girl from Taunggyi, Myanmar.

Hannah lives in a one-room home with her mother, Rose Mary, her father, Joseph, and two younger sisters. Due to the current political situation in Myanmar, Hannah’s family has fled their home twice in the last year. While Hannah’s mother has stayed home with the children over the last few years, Hannah’s father, worked as a technician for an Apple-authorized retailer. Due to the political situation in Myanmar, the store closed and he has been without a job.

Hannah arrived in Israel for the second time in September 2021, this time with her father, Joseph

At 6 months old, Hannah’s parents noticed that Hannah was very ill, had bluish discoloration, and was constantly crying, but didn’t recognize any of the symptoms. Hannah was born with a heart condition called tetralogy of Fallot, a condition classified by a combination of four heart defects that commonly occur together. This condition can cause oxygen in the blood to be reduced and as such was the source of Hannah’s cyanosis or bluish discoloration. Tetralogy of Fallot is considered a critical congenital heart defect that requires surgical treatment to correct and to save the life of the patient.

When Hannah was five, she and her mother made their first trip to Israel for her first life-saving cardiac treatment. After successful surgery,

Hannah during her first stay in Israel

Hannah went home but was told she would need to return in three years for follow-up treatment. Fast forward to the present day, COVID-19 and the military coup in Myanmar made the journey back to Israel an exhausting and ominous one. First, they had to find where they could get COVID PCR testing done, which is not always available and very expensive. Hannah and Joseph embarked on their journey with a 12-hour bus ride from their hometown to the capital of Myanmar, where the airport is located. They stayed in the capital for 45 days before they got on the plane to come to Israel. However, they almost missed their flight due to a last-minute paperwork mix-up. Joseph explains how stressed and scared he was in those moments. Once arriving in Israel, Joseph shared:

“I am so happy for Hannah that we were able to manage to get here. She needs this treatment to get better. I also feel more relaxed here because it is very quiet and I do not need to be scared for my safety or the safety of my daughter.”

When it is safe to go outside, Hannah likes to go on picnics with her friends at the park. Her favorite food is buttered noodles and her favorite color is blue. Hannah had just completed kindergarten at public school but due to COVID and the coup, has been unable to go to school for the last two years. Hannah’s favorite subject is art and when she grows up she wants to be a doctor.

Hannah celebrated Christmas 2021 with a healthy heart

Against all odds, Hannah and Joseph arrived in Israel in September 2021 for Hannah's life-saving surgery.

After an initial diagnostic cardiac catheterization procedure on October 13, 2021, and successful surgical and cardiac catheterization treatments on December 13, 2021.

Hannah with Mwenya from Zambia and Ruth from Ethiopia