‘Save a Child’s Heart’ doctors honored at UN event

Doctors and medics try to resuscitate 14-year-old Palestinian boy Yasser Abu Al-Naja, who died later after he was shot by Israeli forces during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border, at a hospital in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday. (REUTERS)
Updated 30 June 2018
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‘Save a Child’s Heart’ doctors honored at UN event

  • The nonprofit, funded mostly by private donors with some contributions from governments, has performed surgery on nearly 5,000 children since it was started about two decades ago
  • At the moment, 44 children are being treated free-of-charge at the Edith Wolfson Medical Center in Holon

NEW YORK: A group of Israeli doctors have bypassed the region’s politics to save thousands of Palestinian children and those from 57 other countries by operating on their diseased hearts.
Earlier this week, the doctors with Save a Child’s Heart, an organization based in Holon just south of Tel Aviv, were honored at the UN, where Israeli positions have often clashed with those held by Arab member nations. But group co-founder Dr. Sion Houri said that when it comes to children’s lives, “our activity is international, non-political and non-religious.”
He and two fellow physicians, Lior Sasson and Akiva Tamir, accepted the UN Population Award Tuesday for saving young lives — especially in war-torn and developing lands.
The nonprofit, funded mostly by private donors with some contributions from governments, has performed surgery on nearly 5,000 children since it was started about two decades ago, including more than 2,000 from the West Bank and Gaza and 300 from Iraq and Syria. The rest came from Africa, South America, Europe, Asia and throughout the Middle East.
At the moment, 44 children are being treated free-of-charge at the Edith Wolfson Medical Center in Holon.
The first patients in the 1990s were from Ethiopia, including a 15-year-old boy who lived in the streets with a life-threatening cardiac ailment. After recovering, he returned home and eventually opened a school for homeless street kids. Among them was a boy whom the school founder recently brought to Israel for his heart surgery.
“Many people might think that I’m naive, but we think treating a child with heart disease is like planting a seed of peace,” said Sasson, the organization’s lead surgeon.
Even though these children have heart conditions that are correctable, “the majority of them will die before the age of 20 as a result of the lack of facilities and doctors,” the surgeon said.
Save a Child’s Heart physicians are now training new teams of medical professionals to work in the West Bank, Ethiopia, Kenya, China, Romania, Moldova, Kenya and Tanzania.


Iraq lifts nearly 30 km of blast walls from Baghdad: official

Updated 17 June 2019
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Iraq lifts nearly 30 km of blast walls from Baghdad: official

BAGHDAD: Iraqi authorities have removed nearly 30 kilometers of concrete blast walls across Baghdad in the last six months, mostly around the capital’s high-security Green Zone, a senior official told AFP.
Since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, T-walls — thick barriers about six meters tall and one meter wide — have surrounded potential targets of car bombs or other attacks.
When premier Adel Abdel Mahdi came to power last year, he promised to remove barriers, checkpoints and other security measures to make Baghdad easier to navigate.
“Over the last six months, we removed 18,000 T-walls in Baghdad, including 14,000 in the Green Zone alone,” said Staff Lt. Gen. Mohammed Al-Bayati, the PM’s top military adviser.
Hundreds of the security checkpoints that contributed to Baghdad’s notorious traffic jams have also been removed.
And according to the Baghdad municipality, 600 streets that had been closed off to public access have been opened in the last six months.
Among them are key routes crossing through Baghdad’s Green Zone, the enclave where government buildings, UN agencies and embassies including the US and UK missions are based.
It was long inaccessible to most Iraqis until an order from Abdel Mahdi last year, and families can now be seen picking their way across its manicured parks for sunset pictures.
Iraq is living a rare period of calm after consecutive decades of violence, which for Baghdad peaked during the sectarian battles from 2006 to 2008.
It was followed, in 2014, by Daesh’s sweep across a third of the country and a three-year battle to oust the militants from their urban strongholds.
The group still wages hit-and-run attacks against Iraqi security forces and government targets, and Baghdad’s authorities are on high alert.
Thousands of the removed T-walls have been placed on Baghdad’s outskirts to prevent infiltration by Daesh sleeper cells, according to Bayati.