MidEast

UN to Honor Israeli Medical NGO, which Saves Children with Heart Disease

The Israeli non-for-profit organization, Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) will be awarded the United Nations Population Award for saving the lives of Palestinian children with heart disease – the first time an organization from Israel will receive the award.

The Globe and Mail reported Wednesday that the organization dedicated to treating children from developing countries with heart disease will receive the award on Tuesday in New York.

Thousands of children in 57 different countries have so far received care from SACH, about half of which are from Palestinian territories. In areas where Israelis are not allowed, the organization operates through a Christian partner group.

Once a family agrees to receive care from SACH, the patient is brought into Israel to Edith Wolfson Medical Centre, south of Tel Aviv, where the organization is based. SACH trains medical personnel, runs cardiology clinics and conducts screenings in Israel and abroad, at no cost to their patients.

“Many people might think that I’m naive, or my colleagues are naive, but we think … operating or treating a child with heart disease is like [planting] a seed of peace,” said SACH lead surgeon Lior Sasson.

“The mother of the baby knows what we did for her son, and when she goes back, the whole family and … many people know it. So I want to think and I want to hope that this might somehow be a factor that will promote peace between us and the Palestinians.”

Dr. Sasson said he was “very honored” his organization was chosen.

SACH was founded in 1995 at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, Israel, with the mission of improving the quality of pediatric cardiac care for children in developing countries, regardless of nationality, religion, color, gender or financial situation.

“I always think about the publicity as [necessary] to help us recruit more donors, more volunteers, more people to support this great cause,” Dr. Sasson said. “Having said that, we are all human, and it feels nice. It’s good to know that this great work is being appreciated.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will present the award to SACH physicians Dr. Sasson, Akiva Tamir and Sion Houri at the UN headquarters in New York in a ceremony on June 26.

[Photo: Save a Child’s Heart / YouTube ]