Palestinian authority/Gaza

When your child is sick you think about it day and night.

Arena is a lovable almost-three-year-old Palestinian girl from Ezreih, who was born with a ventricular septal defect (VSD) and mitral regurgitation (MR).

A VSD - also known as “a hole in the heart” - is a type of congenital heart defect 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 congenital cardiac abnormalities. In the case of mitral regurgitation, the mitral valve, which sits between the left atrium (upper chamber) ) and the left ventricle (lower chamber) does not close completely and allows blood to leak back (regurgitate) into the atrium.

Arena was diagnosed after birth at Makassed Hospital in Jerusalem. Following the diagnosis, which appeared to require medical intervention, Arena’s father, Annas, confided in a Jewish friend who knew of Save a Child’s Heart. He connected Annas to the coordinator for Palestinian familes, Fatma, and Arena was invited to the SACH pediatric cardiology clinic for Palestinian families, to be screened. She was scheduled for a procedure, but her arrival date was pushed off due to COVID-19 and the ensuing border closures. Finally, in early June, Arena and her father arrived at the Wolfson Medical Center so that she could receive the care she needed to survive. On June 7, 2020, Arena underwent life-saving heart surgery.

 “When your child is sick you think about it day and night. Here, I know they work from the heart and I am so grateful for the care my daughter has finally received.” - Annas, Arena's father.

Arena and her father, Annas, at the Wolfson Medical Center

Amidst the global Coronavirus pandemic, at the time of her treatment, Arena was one of nine Palestinian children under our care at Wolfson Medical Center. Now, with a healthy heart, Annas can watch his daughter enjoy some of her favorite things, like sweets, horses and coloring.