March 15, 2022

SACH Treats Child with Down Syndrome from Yazidi Refugee Camp in Iraq

In February, 2022, four-year-old Inas and her mother made the journey from theYazidi refugee camp where they live in Sharya, Iraq to Holon, Israel where Inas underwent successful, life-saving heart surgery with Save a Child’s Heart at the Wolfson Medical Center.

Inas’s journey has been a long one. When she was one week old, her parents noticed she was very blue and took her to the nearest hospital to be evaluated. There, lnas was diagnosed with Down syndrome.


Down syndrome (or Trisomy 21) occurs when a person has a partial or full extra 21st chromosome out of a total fo 23 chromosomes. Often associated with additional physical conditions, Inas was also diagnosed with a ventricular septal defect (VSD, also known as "a hole in the heart") a type of congenital heart defect (CHD) in which there is an opening in the ventricular septum, the wall dividing the left and right ventricles of the heart.

VSDs are the most common CHD in children with Down syndrome. After VSD, the two other most common types of CHD in children with Down syndrome are patent ductus arteriosus and tetralogy of Fallot. About 50 percent of infants with Down syndrome have some form of CHD compared with approximately 1 percent of typicalinfants.


Heart conditions are the main cause of death in children with Down syndrome during their first two years of life. Patterns of CHD in children with Down syndrome vary widely worldwide, which may be due to sociodemographic, genetic and geographic factors. The good news is that if these heart conditions can be treated early, most children with Down syndrome will be able to live into adulthood.

Save a Child’s Heart is one of the only international children’s cardiac organizations that provides free access to children in need of urgent cardiac care. We have been treating the hearts of children like Inas with Down syndrome for over 25 years. This is part of our commitment to treating children regardless of race, religion, gender, or financial status.


lnas's father was connected to Save a Child's Heart through a man he met at the local supermarket in Iraq who knew of the organization. The man made some phone calls and helped them get the family’s documentation through. The rest was left to the medical team of Save a Child's Heart.


In the beginning of 2022, lnas and her mother traveled from Iraq to Israel in anticipation of lnas undergoing life-saving heart surgery. Inas and her mother very quickly made many friends from different countries at the Save a Child’s Heart Children’s Home.

"I love Israel very much, everyone is so caring for us here,” said Inas’s mother.

Danielle Rothenberg, International Young Leadership Director for Save a Child’s Heart, said that Inas and her mother, like children from around the world, quickly connect with each other at the Save a Child’s Heart Children’s Home.

“At the Children's Home, we host families from many countries, but we always see them all playing together peacefully and harmoniously regardless of which language they speak or religion they practice,” Danielle emphasized.

After the surgery, Inas’s mother said she was feeling much better than she did before the life-saving treatment by Save a Child’s Heart.

“Our situation at home is not easy, we live in a tent and my daughter was not able to sleep properly and used to breathe heavily all night,” Inas’s mother explained. “Now that she is after surgery, she sleeps like an angel.”

The Save a Child’s Heart team is happy to be able to send Inas home to her family, including her father, mother, grandmother, grandfather, aunt and uncle, with a strong and healthy heart.


“Inas misses her father and wants to go home but I really love it here and will miss our family we made here,” Inas’s mother said. “Thank you to Save a Child's Heart for all that you have done for us."


A child is a child, and Save a Child’s Heart believes that all children deserve the same love, respect, and life-saving care.