Save a Child's Heart

An Israeli-based international non-profit that improves cardiac care for children in developing countries was awarded the 2018 UN Population Award.

By: AP and United with Israel Staff

A group of Israeli doctors who save lives by establishing medical centers and improving the quality of cardiac care for children in developing countries  has been celebrated by the United Nations (UN) for their global humanitarian venture.

Last week, the doctors with Save a Child’s Heart, an organization based in Holon just south of Tel Aviv, were honored at the UN, where group co-founder Dr. Sion Houri said that when it comes to children’s lives, “our activity is international, non-political and non-religious.”

He and two fellow physicians, Lior Sasson and Akiva Tamir, accepted the UN Population Award Tuesday for saving young lives in 57 countries, especially in war-torn and developing lands.

The non-profit, funded mostly by private donors with some contributions from governments, has performed surgery on nearly 5,000 children since it was started about two decades ago, including more than 2,000 from the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Gaza and 300 from Iraq and Syria. The rest came from Africa, South America, Europe, Asia and throughout the Middle East.

At the moment, 44 children are being treated free-of-charge at the Edith Wolfson Medical Center in Holon.

A More Peaceful and Productive World

The first patients in the 1990s were from Ethiopia, including a 15-year-old boy who lived in the streets with a life-threatening cardiac ailment. After recovering, he returned home and eventually opened a school for homeless street kids. Among them was a boy whom the school founder recently brought to Israel for heart surgery.

By mending hearts, regardless of race, religion, gender, nationality, or financial status, Save a Child’s Heart contributes to a happier, healthier and more peaceful world.

“Many people might think that I’m naive, but we think treating a child with heart disease is like planting a seed of peace,” said Sasson, the organization’s lead surgeon.

Although these children have heart conditions that are correctable, without intervention, “the majority of them will die before the age of 20 as a result of the lack of facilities and doctors,” the surgeon said.

Save a Child’s Heart physicians are now training new teams of medical professionals to work in the PA, Ethiopia, Kenya, China, Romania, Moldova, Kenya and Tanzania.