Hannah Ramsay

Hannah is studying medicine in Canada as an MD/PHD Candidate.

I first learned of Save a Child’s Heart whilst in my undergraduate studies, where we had a student-run club that spread awareness and raised funds for the organization. I was touched by Dr. Ami Cohen’s story, and the difference that the organization has been able to make in the lives of thousands of children and their families. As my academic career progressed and I became increasingly involved in research and medicine, SACH and its mission became even more pertinent as I learned about the disparities that exist in health care.

Last year, I became aware of the opportunity to get involved with SACH as a medical intern. As a medical student with blossoming interests in internal medicine and cardiology, I was passionate about seeing the impact of the organization first hand. I could not be more grateful for the experience I had at SACH this past summer, and for the many lessons I will carry forward with me into my career in medicine.

The children were as excited to meet us as we were to meet them, and the home itself was a vibrant community and intersection of many different cultures. I would highly recommend visiting the children’s home if you ever have the chance!

On our first day, we spent time in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), where we learned about differences that exist between adult and pediatric care, as well as interesting and rare medical conditions. The next day, we were in the catheterization lab with Dr. Sagi and Dr. Ahmed and they took the time to review the procedures that they were performing that day with us.

We spent a lot of time with the doctors at the cardiology clinic and PICU, learning about all different conditions, and we were able to attend a meeting with the medical team where they worked together to address cases of complex care and advocated for the needs of their patients. There was one child with a severe case of rheumatic heart disease, a condition that is seldom seen in North America due to the availability of antibiotics. This was eye opening, and again emphasized the disparity in and importance of access to care. We even had the opportunity to observe a surgery! This was the first time I had observed open-heart surgery, and an experience that I will never forget. Dr. Lior explained the procedure as he performed the surgery, and as we watched him stop and restart the heart. The surgery was successful and will have an immediate impact in improving the quality of life of this child.

We spent time in the Palestinian Clinic, which specifically cares for patients coming from Gaza and the West Bank. It was fascinating to watch the delivery of care happen in three languages almost simultaneously, as Dr. Ahmed would talk to patients in Arabic, to us in English and to his staff in Hebrew.

We spent our last day in the children's home; we had a great time playing with the SACH children and meeting their families and learning even more about the organization. I hadn’t been aware of how much SACH did in terms of training physicians from other countries, or that they were training and housing entire medical teams (comprised of surgeons, internists, intensivist, anesthesiologists...) to return to countries most in need of local cardiac care. We couldn’t have asked for a better final day!

Playing with Salama and Amina from Zanzibar

I could not be more thankful to the entire team at SACH for being so welcoming and for taking the time to teach us about the important and life-saving work that they do. It was a privilege to meet the exceptionally brave children and families. These physicians fight courageously for their patients, and work around the clock as a dynamic team to provide the highest level of care. I am excited to be entering a field which can champion even the tiniest and sickest of humans, where a few dedicated individuals can come together to make such a difference in the lives of countless others.