Hanna arrived in Israel in June of 2020 for repair of her her ventricular septal defect (VSD)


Hanna, who is known in her family as the princess of the house, is an almost-six-year-old from the Oromia region, in Ethiopia.

Hanna arrived in Israel in June of 2020 for repair of her her ventricular septal defect (VSD). 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. They are found in 30-60% of all newborns with a congenital heart defect or about 2-6 per 1000 births. Blood that flows between different chambers of your heart must pass through a heart valve. These valves open up enough so that blood can flow through. They then close, keeping blood from flowing backward. The tricuspid valve separates the right lower heart chamber (the right ventricle) from the right upper heart chamber (right atrium). 

Born pre-term, it immediately appeared to Hanna’s mother, Masarat, that something was wrong with her first and only child. Earlier screenings in their regional hospital identified a heart condition, but Masarat was advised that the ‘hole’ in her daughter’s heart might close on its own. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case for Hanna, or Hanni, as her mother calls her. As she grew, Hanna continued to battle with breathlessness and weakness every day. Hanna is a curious child who loves to draw and write, but though top of her class, Hanna had to stop attending school because she couldn’t manage the walk there and fell asleep at her desk, suffering from extreme exhaustion due to her heart condition. 

Masarat, who is a single mother and works at Concern Worldwide in Ethiopia, a local arm of a global NGO fighting poverty, prayed for her daughter’s wellbeing every day. After two years of follow ups, hope came when Hanna’s case was finally referred to the Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa. There, Masarat met Dr. Etsegenet Gedlu, a former SACH-trainee and partner cardiologist. It was clear to Dr. Gedlu that Hanna would need an intervention to survive and that it was unavailable in Ethiopia. She referred Hanna’s case to SACH. But then came COVID-19. Dr. Gedlu assured her that as soon as they had the chance, they would fly. .

“Through COVID I was scared we would not reach Israel but I continued to pray.”
Hanna and her mother, Masarat, at the Children's Home

On June 1, amidst the COVID pandemic, Hanna and her mother arrived in Israel, with four other children, three mothers and a group nurse. After undergoing initial examinations for COVID which came back negative, the mother and daughter will quarantine for 12 days, before they can enter the hospital. Once at the Wolfson Medical Center, Hanna will undergo lifesaving heart surgery

“I am so hopeful now. I’ve been waiting for this chance for my child. I’ve seen other children who have been healed and now we are here to heal her. This was my prayer.”

On June 16, 2020, Hanna underwent life-saving heart surgery at the Wolfson Medical Center in Israel.

Hannah, post-surgery at the Wolfson Medical Center