Israeli help group looks to expand to Samoa

An Israeli international non-profit organization, Save a Child’s Heart (S.A.C.H.), is looking to spread its mission to Samoa.

The organization works to improve the quality of pediatric cardiac care for children in developing countries.

“The S.A.C.H.’s goal is to improve the health and welfare of all children, regardless of the child’s nationality, religion, color, gender or financial situation,” says Yaron Sultan Dadon, Israel’s Pacific Islands Advisor. 

Last week, the S.A.C.H. received a prestigious award from the United Nations Population Award with special consultative status granted by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (E.C.O.S.O.C.) for the work they do. 

S.A.C.H. was founded in 1995 at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, Israel.

Their goal is to improve the health and welfare of all children, regardless of the child’s nationality, religion, color, gender or financial situation. 

Mr. Dadon explained the service is offered for any children who have heart problems and although Samoa is not yet been informed about this foundation, but it is open to anyone. 

“Save a Child’s Heart holds preoperative and follow up cardiology clinics in Israel and abroad on a weekly basis, offers a comprehensive training program within Israel for doctors and nurses from developing countries and leads surgical and teaching missions to partner countries,” he said. 

“To date, Save a Child’s Heart have saved the lives of more than 4,740 children from 56 countries in Africa, South America, Europe, Asia, and throughout the Middle East and trained more than 150 medical team members from these countries. 

“Since 1995, Save a Child’s Heart has treated more than 4,740 children suffering from congenital and rheumatic heart disease. The annual number of children we treat has grown dramatically from 48 cases in 1996 to over 290 in 2016.” 

According to the Dadon, 50 percent of the children treated at the hospital are from the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Iraq and Morocco, Africa, and the remainder are from Asia, Eastern Europe and the Americas.

“Last year we were able to bring a young girl from Fiji, first Pacific Island girl who has a hole in her heart,” explained Dadon. 

“Furthermore S.A.C.H. also provides training programs vary from three months to five years and are all held under the auspices of the Sackler School of Medicine and the Center for the International Cooperation of the Foreign Ministry of Israel.  

According to the S.A.C.H. website, the foundation started shortly after a four-year old girl named Katya arrived from Moldova with very serious heart defects. 

“She was near death and her body was deep blue due to the lack of oxygen. Some five months and four highly complicated surgeries later, Katya was ready to go home. Before she left, she drew a picture of a hand holding a little girl with a heart. When asked to explain, she told her doctor:

“I had a dream, there were many colors over my bed, then a very big hand came in the middle of the night. We flew to a far-off country and they gave me a new heart, and I could run and dance.” – Katya

“Save a Child’s Heart exists today because of the vision, passion, and boundless energy of the late Dr. Amram “Ami” Cohen, an excellent surgeon, an inspiring leader, and a warm and caring person. 

“Ami immigrated to Israel from the United States in 1992. He joined the staff of the Wolfson Medical Center and served as the Deputy Chief of Cardiovascular Surgery and Head of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery, under the direction and mentorship of Prof. Arieh Schachner, the then head of the cardiothoracic department. 

“Save a Child’s Heart came into being in 1995 when an Ethiopian doctor contacted Dr. Cohen after being referred to him by a mutual friend at the University of Massachusetts. 

“He asked for Dr. Cohen’s help with two children in desperate need of heart surgery and Dr. Cohen received the approval and support of Prof. Schachner to commence with this project. 

“Ami died in a tragic accident while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in August of 2001. 

“The goals that he lived for are being carried on by the organization he so successfully created. This is a most fitting memorial to his uniquely productive life.” 

 “I am convinced that for the vast majority of people who chose cardio- thoracic surgery as a profession, idealism was initially a strong factor. For those of you who are reading this and just starting out, hold fast to your ‘day after-vision’ because, if it fades, despite all the skills acquired, there will be something missing. 

“For those who are searching, join us and together let us make the network to help children with heart disease globally big enough to be equal to the task. There is work for everybody. There are no dollars and cents in it, but it is worth a fortune.”

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