In first, four children from South Sudan to receive life-saving heart surgery in Israel
The children are arriving as part of a joint effort between two of Israel’s leading humanitarian aid organizations, IsraAID and Save a Child’s Heart
Sunday, November 27, 2022. For immediate release:
Two leading Israeli non-governmental humanitarian aid groups have come together to provide urgently needed, life-saving treatment to four children from South Sudan. The children, who have congenital heart conditions, will arrive in Israel on Wednesday to be treated by Israeli pediatric cardiologists. The effort is a collaboration between IsraAID and Save a Child’s Heart and is the culmination of two years of planning and overcoming local challenges in South Sudan, as the global pandemic severely limited international travel.
The children – Gai, 8, Habiba, 6, Phillip, 5, and Joel, 5 – all receive day-to-day support from IsraAID’s child-friendly spaces and protection programs in Juba IDP camps. They were diagnosed during a medical mission from Save a Child’s Heart to South Sudan in March 2019, when pediatric cardiologist Dr. Akiva Tamir and then-Israeli Ambassador to South Sudan Hanan Goder travelled to Al Sabah Children’s Hospital to screen and diagnose children with heart disease. Thirty-seven children were screened during this mission.
The children will each be accompanied by a guardian as well as IsraAID and Save a Child’s Heart staff members on their trip from Juba to Tel Aviv. Once in Israel, they will undergo heart surgery at the Sylvan Adams Children’s Hospital at Wolfson Medical Center. The children and their guardians will stay at the Save a Child’s Heart Children’s Home for several months as they undergo and recover from surgery.
The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs purchased the flight tickets for the children and their escorts, as part of their initiative to bring children from 25 African countries marking the 25th anniversary of Save a Child’s Heart.
South Sudan, the world’s youngest country, gained independence in 2011. Two years later, civil war erupted across the country. Due to environmental disasters and armed conflict, there are over 2 million internally displaced people in South Sudan and another 10.26 million South Sudanese refugees worldwide. IsraAID launched its mission to the country in 2011, where its local team of South Sudanese humanitarian experts focus on child protection, preventing and responding to gender-based violence, and promoting sexual and reproductive health.
Save a Child’s Heart works internationally to save the lives of children from countries where access to pediatric cardiac care is limited or nonexistent. To date, the organization has helped more than 6,000 children from 65 countries, with South Sudan being the 66th. The four children from South Sudan will be joining children already in Israel from Chad, Rwanda, Zanzibar, Ethiopia, Somaliland, Zambia, and the Palestinian Authority. This collaboration marks a milestone for both organizations: the first time that Save a Child’s Heart is serving communities in South Sudan, as well as marking the expansion of IsraAID South Sudan’s work into health.
Israel’s Ambassador to South Sudan Gershon Kedar said:
“When I first spoke to the President of South Sudan about the initiative to bring children to Israel for life-saving heart surgery, he was very enthusiastic, but I was not sure if it would actually come about. But through the excellent cooperation of Save a Child’s Heart and IsraAID, working together with the Ministry of Health in South Sudan, it is happening. I hope and trust that this will be the first group of many that will come to Israel. This initiative complements the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ work in the health sector in South Sudan, including the building and outfitting of the first modern emergency unit at the Juba Teaching Hospital, and the recent training course for doctors and nurses. I wish the children health and happiness and thank IsraAID and Save a Child’s Heart for their exemplary work.”
IsraAID’s Head of Health Sector, Sita Cacioppe, said:
“We’re incredibly grateful for this collaboration with Save a Child’s Heart. We have a deep and long-standing connection and commitment to this community and these children, who have been a part of our programming in Juba for years. We’ve always been amazed by the strength and resilience of the community in South Sudan, and we’re proud to be working to support health and wellness on multiple levels in the community.”
Save a Child’s Heart Executive Director Simon Fisher said:
“We are very excited to see these children arrive in Israel after such a long wait. IsraAID’s offer to help has been a true game changer and we look forward to finding more joint projects for our organizations to work together on around Africa.”
Further information is available on request, including interviews with IsraAID CEO Yotam Polizer, Save a Child’s Heart Executive Director Simon Fisher, and other individuals involved in this operation.
Email: [email protected]
Email: [email protected]
IsraAID is a leading international humanitarian non-governmental organization, based in Israel. Since 2001, IsraAID has become synonymous with a rapid response to humanitarian crises. Its medical teams, post-trauma experts, community specialists and other professionals have led international responses to disasters and civil strife around the world. During and after emergencies, IsraAID partners with local communities to re-build their lives, their communities and their futures, together. As of November 2022, IsraAID has responded to crises in more than 60 countries.
Save a Child’s Heart is an Israeli humanitarian organization, working internationally to save the lives of children from countries where access to pediatric cardiac care is limited or nonexistent. Founded at the Wolfson Medical Center in 1995, Save a Child’s Heart has saved the lives of thousands of more than 6,000 children from 65 countries and has brought over 140 local healthcare professionals to Israel for training so they can treat their own children independently and create centers of excellence in their home countries. Our core value is Tikkun Olam – doing good to repair the world and believing that every child deserves the best medical care, regardless of race, religion, gender, nationality, or financial status.