Johnny Yusuf and his caretakers at Schneider. (Schneider Children's Medical Center) Schneider Children's Medical Center
Syrian baby Johnny Yusuf


Johnny Yusuf, born to a Syrian refugee family in Cyprus, was diagnosed with a life-threatening congestive heart defect.


Johnny Yusuf, two weeks old, is a member of triplets born to a Syrian refugee family in Cyprus. He was born weighing only 1.5 kilograms (3.3 lbs.) and diagnosed with a life-threatening congestive heart defect, necessitating an emergency operation unavailable in Cyprus.

Yusuf required specialized care to survive and was flown to Israel in a coordinated effort.

“Johnny’s story is unique because he’s both very small and required surgery immediately,” said an Israeli official, reported Ynet.

A logistically and diplomatically complex medical operation in Israel saved his life, it was revealed on Tuesday.

As Johnny’s condition deteriorated, the Cypriot Health Ministry contacted Professor Einat Birk, director of the Institute of Cardiology at Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva, who advised that he be immediately flown to Israel for treatment.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry and its embassy in Cyprus stepped in to secure the necessary permits for the baby’s flight to Israel because he was a citizen of Syria.