Art by Alexa Druyanoff (Art Director)

Save a Child’s Heart: One of Israel’s Greatest Humanitarian Projects

Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) is an Israeli based non-profit organization that offers cardiac care for all children, regardless of race, religion, gender, or background. The organization focuses on serving Palestinian kids, who make up a total of 50% of their patients. 

Just recently the organization hit an incredible milestone: performing 5,555 heart procedures. Not only does SACH conduct these life-changing procedures, but they also educate and train local medical professionals within Palestinian neighborhoods and medically under-developed countries, aiming to establish a strong foundation of cardiac treatment. 

SACH has transformed the lives of thousands of kids. Accordion to SACH, which chronicles children’s stories on its web pages, Avita, Arena, and Bemnet all had preexisting heart defects and were in need of life-changing heart surgeries. At four months old, Avita, a premature baby from Nepal, was diagnosed with Patent Ductus Arteriosus. On March 7, 2019, at age one, Avita received a life-changing catheterization procedure. This procedure not only saved Avita physically and emotionally, but most importantly, allowed her to be a kid. 

Arena, a Palestinian girl from Ezreih, was diagonosed early on with Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) and Mitral Reconfiguration (MR). She received heart surgery on June 7, 2020, making her one of nine Palestinians to have undergone life-changing heart surgeries during the Coronavirus pandemic. Arena’s father commented on his daughter’s care, stating, “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.” 

Similarly, at only two months old, Bemnet, a child in Ethiopia, was diagnosed with Pulmonary Stenosis. SACH made a long and extensive trip to Ethiopia in November of 2019, performing 22 catheterizations (one of which was for Bemnet), nine open-heart surgeries, and 100 screenings. Bemnet’s father commented on his child’s care and SACH’s mission, stating, “For the past year we have been coming to the hospital every few weeks, very worried about what will happen to Bemnet. And today we are told that there is hope and she will undergo a lifesaving catheterization this week. I am so happy and grateful.” These three children are just a few of the many whose lives SACH has drastically changed for the better, heart by heart. 

Currently Save a Child’s Heart has performed procedures in over 62 countries, trained more than 125 medical professionals, and treated an estimated 2,000 Palestinian kids in weekly clinics, saving a life everyday. Since the start of SACH in 1995, cardiac doctors, nurses, volunteers, and donors have changed and influenced the lives of underserved children. One of those donors is eleven-year-old Amelie Anderson, a Jewish teenager preparing for her Bat Mitzvah. During the pandemic, she decided that her Chesed (community service) project would be to walk 60,000 steps to raise 11,500 euros for SACH. Amelie explained, “The heart of a healthy 12-year old girl beats approximately 60,000 times every 12 hours,” hence her goal to walk 60,000 steps. 

SACH’s mission of treating all children who suffer from heart diseases in developing countries truly reflects the Jewish values of Tikkun Olam and menschlichkeit. My family has suffered from heart diseases that have primarily developed in elderly years. I understand how difficult it is to see a loved one battle heart deficiencies. However, my circumstances and the professional care my loved ones receive is incomparable to the harsh realities families and children face in underserved communities. Save a Child’s Heart works to transform the lives of those who are not given a surviving chance at birth. Every heart they mend gives a child an opportunity of hope: to be a kid and have a better future. The work and mission of SACH is a true miracle.

Sarah Phillips is a sophomore at the Spence School in New York. She is a Staff Writer for Fresh Ink for Teens.

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