November 8, 2020

Save a Child’s Heart conducts 5,555th life-saving procedure on 2-year-old Palestinian boy from Gaza

Holon, Israel, November 1, 2020

To date, Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) has treated 5,554 children, 50 percent of whom are Palestinian. This week, the Israeli-based international humanitarian organization will perform it’s 5,555 lifesaving procedure on little Mahmad from Gaza. At just two weeks old Mahmad was brought to the hospital in Gaza, breathless and failing to gain weight. His mother was understandably worried, and when told that Mahmad‘s case didn’t require intervention, she insisted otherwise:

“I was sure that my son was sick, that if he had access to the right treatment he could be healed.”
Mahmad post-op at the Wolfson Medical Center

Thankfully, the family were made aware of Save a Child’s Heart by Dr. Abdelrahim Azab, a pediatric cardiologist in Gaza and partner of Save a Child’s Heart. At 5 months old, Mahmad was referred to SACH and was brought to Wolfson Medical Center where he underwent an surgical intervention that saved his life. At the time the family knew that he might have to return for a follow up procedure. Although hospitalization can be difficult on children and families, Mahmad’s mother was mostly relieved that a treatment plan was finally in place:

“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. That is 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. 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.”

Back home, Mahmad has two brothers and one sister. His family is also expecting another child: “Mahmad’s treatment has brought great joy and relief to my family. When a child is sick it is 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.”

Dr. Sagi Assa, Head of the Interventional Pediatric Cardiology Unit at Wolfson Hospital who performed Mahmad's life-saving cardiac catheterization procedure together with his team, acknowledged that children like Mahmad represent the best of what we do:

"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 Mahmad, brings immeasurable joy and meaning to my life." 
Mahmad and SACH cardiologist Dr. Hanita Shai

Mahmad's life-saving journey was covered by the Jerusalem Post and in an ILTV interview with pediatric interventional cardiologist, Dr. Sagi Assa.

2021 will be the year that Save a Child’s Heart marks its 25th year of humanitarian activities. One milestone among the many that SACH has reached over the years, will be saving more than 6,000 children, training more than 140 medical team members, and opening the new Sylvan Adams Children’s Hospital & International Pediatric Cardiac Center at Wolfson Hospital.