It’s pretty hard to out-cute Doctor Mike, the social-media phenomenon and real-life Jewish Dr. Mikhail Varshavski, but he really was no competition for 15-month-old baby Fatma.
The two were all smiles when they met this week through Save a Child’s Heart, the Israeli NGO treating thousands of kids from around the world who suffer from heart conditions.
Fatma is the organization‘s 5,000th patient. She was flown to Wolfson Medical Center in Holon all the way from Zanzibar for a lifesaving operation earlier this year and is now recuperating in Israel. She came over with her mother, Balkis Makame Haji, who was treated for the same condition by Save a Child’s heart surgeons when she was younger.
“I already owe my life to the doctors here,” Haji told the visiting American osteopathic physician, media personality, and philanthropist. “Now that they have saved my baby, I owe them my happiness as well. We are going back to Zanzibar soon, but a piece of our hearts will always stay in Israel.”
Save a Child’s Heart’s mission is to improve the quality of pediatric cardiac care for children in developing countries, regardless of the child’s religion, gender, or nationality. To date, it has treated patients from some 60 countries both in Israel and at home.
“With all the turmoil in the Middle East and all over the world, it’s easy to be heartbroken. It’s a lot harder to mend a heart – and that’s what these guys are doing here every day,” Doctor Mike said of the organization’s work.
“It’s inspiring how they overcome politics and geography to save children’s lives. The doctors, and all the staff here, are heroes, they really are.”
Doctor Mike is visiting Israel with America’s Voices for Israel, a U.S. non-profit organization that brings celebrities and athletes to Israel, and is using his trip to meet with local medical technology industry leaders, visit research projects, and also tour around the country.