My name is Nir Levy. I am an upcoming 4th year medical student at Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary. Throughout my pre-clinical studies I found myself to be particularly interested in Cardiovascular Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology. Upon hearing about Save A Child’s Heart, I knew I wanted to take part in the program and to take the opportunity to help out children in need.
Throughout the two weeks, I took part in several operations and interventional cardiac catheterizations in the brand new Sylvan Adams children’s hospital. After seeing various ventricular septal defects (VSD) on echocardiogram in clinic, and having lectures on their pathophysiology by Dr. Akiva Tamir and Dr. Ahmed Amer, I was able to observe them being treated in two completely different ways.
In the operating room, an exhilarating experience awaited me. Hellen, a courageous six-year-old with a VSD too large to be closed in the cath lab, would undergo open heart surgery to close it. Dr. Lior Sasson and Dr. Fitsum Argaw Abebe, a pediatric cardiac surgery fellow from Ethiopia, would be performing the VSD closure. They kindly allowed me to scrub in and stand alongside them as they performed the operation; I stood dumbfounded.
I was transfixed with wonder watching the surgeons’ painstakingly meticulous motions, and finally at the end of the surgery, Hellen’s heart began to roar back to life after being removed from the heart-lung machine.
One of the highlights of my time with SACH was getting to know Bienvenu, an eight-year-old from Chad with an indomitable spirit. Every time I came to visit the children’s home, Bienvenu raced towards me, grabbed my hand and led me to a different game. One day we colored together, the next we played hop scotch - my first time in over 20 years. We played basketball, and put together puzzles involving her favorite Disney princesses. Bienvenu refused to be defined by her heart condition, and was determined to enjoy her time in the days before her surgery without showing any signs of worry over what awaited her at the hospital.
The Talmud teaches that whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world. 6000 children like Bienvenu have been saved through SACH. I cannot imagine a cause more noble.