Save a Child’s Heart (SACH), an Israeli non-profit that provides medical treatment to children from developing countries suffering from heart disease, will receive the United Nations Population Award this coming Tuesday, marking the first time an Israeli organization will receive the award.According to a statement from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), there will be an official ceremony held at the UN headquarters in New York Tuesday evening to commemorate the three 2018 laureates.Dr. Sir Prince Ramsey, an Antiguan physician credited with improving health care for thousands of people in Antigua and Barbuda, and the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization that advances sexual and reproductive health and rights internationally, will receive awards alongside SACH.The laureates were chosen by a committee of 10 UN member states from several international nominees for their outstanding work in population and in improving the health and welfare of individuals.The organization founded by surgeon Dr. Amram Cohen 21 years ago has treated children arriving from Ethiopia, Vietnam, Jordan, Moldova, Tanzania, Russia, the Philippines, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Angola, Iraq, Haiti, St. Vincent, Trinidad and Tobago, Ecuador, Mauritania, Senegal, the Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Somalia, China, Romania, Ukraine, and others.The organization brings children to Israel in groups of four to seven at a time, accompanied by an adult from their place of origin. A parent or a relative accompanies children under the age of three.
The children are first brought to the organization's children's home in Holon, where the live before and after the surgery. The average stay time is 6-8 weeks, depending on the child's condition, recovery time, and the accompanying adult's ability to travel back with the child. The children's home can host 24 children at any one time, as well as three international volunteers and two doctors undergoing training in the program
SACH is based out of Edith Wolfson Medical Center in Tel Aviv and works with partnering organizations to carry out its humanitarian work where Israelis are not allowed, like in certain areas of the West Bank and all of Gaza.Every Tuesday, a special clinic for Palestinians admits children from the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Dr. Akiva Tamir, director of Save a Child's Heart at Wolfson Medical Center, told i24NEWS that "most of the patients we receive are Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip."Since the project began over 20 years ago, we have treated some 4,500 children from 53 developing countries, half of them Palestinian, and for years have treated Arab children from Syria and Iraq," he says. "We have also held courses for doctors specializing in heart ailments in these countries to complement treatment in their homeland."Dr. Tamir adds: "20 children arrive from the West Bank and Gaza every Tuesday. We examine their condition and conduct the necessary tests in order to find out what kind of treatment they should receive, all while consulting with the doctors treating these children, whether they are from the [West] Bank or the [Gaza] Strip. We try to treat severe cases as much as we can, as well as those who require intensive care who arrive within two or three hours."Dr. Alona Raucher, a senior cardiologist at Wolfson Medical Center, recalls with excitement the condition of five-year-old Dareen, a Palestinian from Hebron. "Dareen arrived at the hospital in 2012 after unsuccessful heart surgery that caused her to suffer serious complications when she arrived. Her recovery was a miracle," she says, adding that the girl still needs further operations.SACH’s lead physicians, Dr. Lior Sasson, Dr. Akiva Tamir, and Dr. Sion Houri will accept the award from the UNPFA on behalf of their organization.
In Photo : DDr. Akiva Tamir, director of Save a Child's Heart at Wolfson Medical Center
photo credit : Hiba Zoabi
. Akiva Tamir, director of Save a Child's Heart at Wolfson