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Israel Health & Medicine: Save a Child's Heart

Save A Child's Heart, based in Holon, Israel, is the largest undertaking in the world providing free critical pediatric heart surgery and follow-up care to children from developing countries, regardless of background. Save a Child's Heart was founded in 1995 by the late Dr. Amram "Ami" Cohen, an American immigrant to Israel, born and raised near Washington, DC.

Save a Child's Heart brings children from developing countries to the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, a suburb of Tel Aviv, to be operated on by a volunteer staff of Israeli doctors and nurses. They have treated children as young as a few days old and as old as teenagers. Despite the hardships they face, Save a Child's Heart has a stunning success rate of 96%.

As part of the process, Save a Child's Heart also brings in medical personnel from the patients' countries and trains them in life-saving pediatric cardiology and follow-up care. Since 1995, Save a Child's Heart has treated almost 1,000 children from the Palestinian Authority, Ethiopia, China, Nigeria, Zanzibar, and many other nations. An Iraqi baby with serious heart problems was brought to Israel (via Jordan, as the Iraqis refused to make a direct flight to Israel) in late 2003. The Israeli doctors (including the son of Iraqi Jewish immigrants) provided medical services unavailable in Iraq and operated on her for more than 21 hours, without cost to her family.

In June 2016, a 4-year old boy named Sanusey from Brikama, Gambia, became the 4,000th patient saved by the team at Save a Child's Heart. He arrived in Israel on May 15, 2016, and underwent emergency surgery the following morning after collapsing at the Wolfson Medical Center in an exam room.

The United Nations honored Save a Child's Heart with the prestigious UN Population Award in April 2018.  The award was first presented in 1983, and is given annually to an individual or organization for outstanding contributions to reproductive and population health issues.  

Save a Child's Heart is an all-volunteer organization funded by donations from around the world.

Sources: Save a Child's Heart;
ABC News;
Parade Magazine;
“4-year-old Sanusey from Gambia is the 4,000th child saved by Save a Child's Heart,” IMRA (June 16, 2016);
Judy Siegel, Save a Child's Heart Organization Wins Prestigious UN Award, Jerusalem Post, (April 3, 2018).