On Wednesday, June 21, 2019, we celebrated saving the lives of more than 2,000 Palestinian children together with our partners at the European Union. For the past 15 years the EU has generously funded our Heart of the Matter Program with more than $US3,000,000 in support of our belief that by Mending Hearts we are actually building Bridges whilst sharing knowledge between Israeli and Palestinian practitioners and creating endless encounters between Israelis and Palestinian families focusing on the common goal of improving pediatric cardiac care for Palestinian children.
The event was attended by Israeli and Palestinian medical team members, the management of the Wolfson Medical Center and of Save a Child’s Heart, families of Palestinian past patients and supporters and donors of the organization.
During the event, Ambassador Giaufret said: “When I think about the 2,000 lives this program has saved, I am not only awed by the achievement for its own sake, I am deeply relieved. As intractable as this conflict is, how much worse would it be with another 2,000 victims? Peacebuilding is not simply a matter of building trust; sometimes, the aversion of mistrust is just as important. This program, The Heart of the Matter, does both. On behalf of the European Union, I offer my thanks for the important work you have done, for the thousands of lives you have saved, and—no less important—for safeguarding the prospect of peace for countless thousands more”.
The “Heart of the Matter” program is promoting cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians by providing opportunities for engagement, focusing on the common goal of improving pediatric cardiac care for Palestinian children. The program provides cardiac care to Palestinian children and outreach training to physicians and nurses from the Palestinian Authority.
Every Tuesday, Save a Child’s Heart holds a free cardiology clinic for Palestinian children at the Wolfson Medical Center. 20-30 Palestinian children come every week to the clinic, from the West Bank, and from Gaza, to be examined by the SACH doctors. The group of children from Gaza are accompanied by two Palestinian doctors who come to work at the clinic alongside their Israeli partners. Some of the children arrive for evaluation, and some of them are past patients followed up by the SACH team for years.
“Following up with the children from the West Bank and from Gaza, seeing their families come here for years to receive treatment, this is what makes us a family”, said Dr. Alona Raucher, Head of the Pediatric Cardiology Unit at the Wolfson Medical Center.
Since the beginning of the Heart of the Matter program 15 years ago, SACH has provided lifesaving procedures to 2,000 Palestinian children suffering from heart disease and provided training to dozens of Palestinian physicians and nurses from the West Bank and Gaza.
“I am learning new things that will help me be a better doctor. I’m meeting new colleagues and making new friends. This means a better future for my people. It’s also how we build peace,” said Dr. Ahmed Zarour, who is currently training with SACH at Wolfson to become a pediatric cardiac surgeon.
In addition and as part of the “Heart of the Matter” program, SACH has held support and dialogue sessions for family members whose children were being treated at the Wolfson Medical Center and carried out volunteer sessions for Israeli and Palestinian youth groups.
“Save a Child’s Heart mends hearts and builds bridges to coexistence and understanding. It is an example of how high-level medicine serves as a currency of peace and cooperation”’ said Professor Arie Schachner Save a Child’s Heart President.