February 23, 2024

Sibling Spotlight: Job and Christine

Job is a 16 year old boy from South Sudan, who traveled to Israel with his mother and 5 year old sister Christine. Job and Christine were both diagnosed with the same congenital heart defect by the Save a Child's Heart medical team while on a mission to South Sudan.

The pair lives with five other siblings in a four-bedroom house with no running water. Their parents, Benet and Lilifoni, are both teachers; Benet teaches sign language, and Lilifoni teaches math and science.

When Job was only seventeen days old, his mother noticed swelling in his chest area, and that he wasn't breathing properly. They took him to Al Saba Children's Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a ventricular septal defect (VSD). VSD is a hole in the heart, a common congenital heart defect. The hole occurs in the wall (septum) that separates the heart's lower chambers (ventricles) and allows blood to pass from the left to the right side of the heart. The oxygen-rich blood then gets pumped back to the lungs instead of out to the body, flooding the lungs and making the heart work harder.  

When he was eleven years old, his sister Christine was born. When she was born, her mother tells us that she was sick with pneumonia and was experiencing some developmental issues. She took her to the local clinic, who referred her to the main hospital where eventually she was diagnosed with two heart defects: ventricular septal defect (VSD), the same as her brother, and Double-chambered right ventricle (DCRV). DCRV is a rare congenital heart disease and an uncommon cause of congestive cardiac failure. An anomalous muscle band (AMB) divides the right ventricle into two cavities, the proximal high-pressure chamber and distal low-pressure chamber.

In July 2023, Save a Child's Heart had a medical mission in South Sudan, screening and diagnosing children with heart disease at the Al Sabah hospital in Juba. The conditions were very hard, with unreliable electricity and many children waiting for the use of a single echo machine. During the three days, the team worked very long hours to screen 74 children, including Job and Christine. SACH brought Job, Christine, their mother, and eight other children from South Sudan to Israel to try to close the hole in their hearts and save lives. 

On January 16, 2024, Christine underwent a lifesaving open heart surgery at the International Pediatric Cardiac Center for Save a Child's Heart at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, Israel. A few days later, on January 22 and 31, Job underwent two life-saving heart catheterization procedures.

While recovering at the SACH house, both children made friends with kids their age who were undergoing treatments just like them. Job is great with younger children; he was especially close to a baby named Enock from South Sudan, acting as an older brother to not only Christine but other kids at the house as well.

Before coming to SACH, Job enjoyed playing football, and could only play for 30 minutes at a time until he got too tired. He is now looking forward to returning home and being able to play a full day of sports! Along with his love for sports, Job has a dream to become an engineer, and we are delighted to have played a part in making his dreams come true.

Their mother shared with us that when she found out Christine was sick, she was devastated to learn that she had another child in need of cardiac treatment. However, when she discovered the opportunity for surgery in Israel, she was overjoyed. She feels incredibly grateful and reassured, knowing that her children are receiving treatment and will be okay! 

The SACH medical team is happy to see both siblings recover and are excited to send them back home to a longer and brighter future.