Baby from Gaza gets new lease on life

A multi-ethnic team of surgeons with Save a Child’s Heart operated successfully on 10-month-old Fajar at an Israeli medical center.

Three days before the ceasefire that has brought quiet in Israel and Gaza, an officer in the Palestinian Authority in Gaza braved the danger to bring his 10-month-old daughter, Fajar, to be prepped for lifesaving surgery at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon through Save a Child’s Heart (SACH).

On September 2, Fajar’s successful open-heart surgery was performed by SACH lead surgeon Dr. Lior Sasson along with Palestinian Dr. Addas and Ethiopian Dr. Mekonnen, both taking part in the SACH training program.

Fajar and her father. Photo by Sheila Shalhevet/SACH

Fajar and her father. Photo by Sheila Shalhevet/SACH

Fajar’s parents are well-acquainted with SACH. Last year, Fajar’s older sister Zachra, now two, was treated at Wolfson for a different type of heart condition. Zachra is due back at the hospital next week for reevaluation for a second surgery.

SACH spokeswoman Tamar Shapira tells ISRAEL21c that Fajar, the youngest of three sisters, was found to have a heart defect during a routine medical checkup in Gaza. “Fajar is learning to stand holding onto furniture, or her father, whom she holds onto for security.”

Fajar is now recovering at Wolfson alongside children from Syria, Iraq, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Romania.

“In the bed next to her in the pediatric intensive care unit is little Rumaisa, a two-week-old baby girl from Gaza who had an extremely complex heart surgery last week,” reports Shapira. “Rumaisa arrived in an ambulance from Gaza in one of the most difficult days of the fighting in Gaza. She arrived in a very bad condition and the doctors needed a few days to stabilize her condition before operating. She is now recovering nicely and her grandmother, who doesn’t leave her bedside, is finally smiling.”

On Tuesday, five more children arrived from Gaza to SACH’s weekly clinic for Palestinian children. This clinic remained open all during Operation Protective Edge, says Shapira. “The SACH medical team continued to treat Palestinian children, including children from Gaza.”

Click here to see ISRAEL21c’s story about one of those children, and here to read about a Yazidi child from Iraq getting treatment through SACH.

To date, SACH has saved the lives of some 3,400 children from Africa, South America, Europe, Asia and throughout the Middle East.

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About Abigail Klein Leichman

Abigail Klein Leichman is a writer and associate editor at ISRAEL21c. Prior to moving to Israel in 2007, she was a specialty writer and copy editor at a daily newspaper in New Jersey and has freelanced for a variety of newspapers and periodicals since 1984.