Mother's Day

May 8, 2020

Mother's Day is this Sunday, so we've compiled some of the most amazing stories of mothers who would go to any length to save their child.

Mama Muqadam spent more than a year away from the rest of her family, to save her son

Mama Muqadam (Zena) came with her young son Muqadam to Israel for heart treatment, leaving her daughter and husband in Tanzania as well as and putting her career as a teacher on hold to make sure her son got the life-saving treatment he needed.

When she arrived in Israel she was faced with a lot of challenges with her son’s health, he endured many physical hardships that the medical team at Wolfson did their best to treat and take care of.

Her perseverance and strength to fight for her son, her passion to learn all she could to take care of him when he returned was inspiring to everyone who met her and 'Muqi.'

The relationships she built with the staff, volunteer, and other mothers were powerful beyond belief. She was there for so many other mothers and children, and remains  caring and patient  even in the hardest of moments. Mama Muqadam is a most-dedicated mother, who continues to do all she can to fight for her son's wellbeing and his future.

We were lucky to recently see her back home in Tanzania, greeting one another with the familiarity of family.

Mama Husan left her son's twin at home and came to a country with no one who spoke her language, to save her son

Husan, or Husanboy as he’s nicknamed, is a 2-year-old boy from Uzbekistan. Husan lives in Oq-Yor village in the province of Andijan, with his mother, father, and twin brother in his father’s family home. Husan was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot, a type of congenital heart disease that is classified by a combination of four heart defects that commonly occur together, at birth. Due to the severity of Husan’s case, his family was encouraged to seek care in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. It was then that Husan’s grandfather took Husan on a more-than-5 hour car ride to Tashkent to evaluate the child. Luckily, Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Health had already been working hand in hand with Israel’s ambassador to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in Tashkent. Amb. Eduard Shapira is a champion of Save a Child’s Heart and helped coordinate the first case that our team treated from Tajikistan - our 58th country, Motivated by that success, Amb. Shapira approached the Uzbeki Ministry of Health to suggest a new partnership with Save a Child’s Heart.

Husan was attached at the hip to his mother. At first shy, and unable to communicate, Mama Husan quickly became a warm and welcoming member of the Children’s Home. Although she did not share the same language, she signaled her gratitude and care with smiles, laughs, and gestures. Every day, of course, she would call home to Husan’s father and twin brother and although the journey was challenging, in light of Husan’s amazing recovery, Husan’s mother shared with us: “I am so glad to be here, especially for the warm welcome we received. I am very grateful to all of you for saving my son’s life. I have no words to express my gratitude.”

Mama Fatma traveled back to Israel, after her own lifesaving heart surgery, to save her daughter

Fatma is a one-and-a-half-year-old girl and only child to her parents Simai and Balkis, both school teachers who met each other in college, studying for their teaching degrees. Fatma’s mother, Balkis, was actually a former SACH patient. When Fatma was just a few months old, she started to experience fever and cough. These symptoms worried her mother, particularly because she herself had been born with heart disease, and in Fatma’s first year of life she was constantly in and out of the hospital. In February of 2019, Balkis arrived at the annual SACH clinic in Zanzibar seeking a solution. Amazingly, on arrival, Balkis was recognized as a former SACH patient who underwent life-saving heart surgery at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon 20 years before. Fatma was subsequently examined and diagnosed with the exact defect that her mother had suffered from and been treated for. There it was determined that soon Fatma would also be flown to Israel to receive the lifesaving medical procedure she needed. On May 21, 2019, Fatma underwent life-saving heart catheterization in Israel. Fatma is a happy little girl whose smile can light up the room. She is very outgoing and loves to sing and dance. Her mother brought so much joy and light to the house, initiating dance pirates among the mothers and sharing stories of home with the volunteers and staff. Recently, Fatma gave birth to a baby boy. On the occasion, her husband wrote to SACH’s Deputy Executive Director, Tamar Shapira: I would like to thank you for your help - Save a Child's Heart saved the life of my wife Balkis and my daughter Fatma, and now our family is happy and able to enjoy life."

Mama Andy started a national media campaign to save her son

Andy Tolobua was born with a congenital heart disease that went untreated for more than ten years. Although he spent his early life in an out of the hospital due to symptoms he suffered from, an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan long remained out of reach. Two years ago, when Andy was 12, he returned to the hospital once more. Suffering from severe joint pain and showing signs of heart disease, he was diagnosed with Rheumatic fever. He began a regimen of medication, but the repair of his heart remained elusive. Luckily, a semblance of hope came the following summer, in July of 2018, when a team of cardiologists arrived from Australia to screen children at the National Referral Hospital in Honiara. In the Solomon Islands, a country of approximately 600,000, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services is the central actor in the health system. To meet the needs of children suffering from heart disease, visiting specialist teams in pediatric cardiology host local screening missions at the National Referral Hospital - the highest level of care offered in the Solomon Islands - and cardiac surgery cases are referred overseas. Such was the case when Andy was finally appropriately diagnosed with aortic regurgitation, so severe that Andy needed immediate surgical repair.

Andy's family, however, did not have the means to treat their son. Andy's mother, Nester, decided that the only way her son might be saved would be if she got the entire country involved, and so she started a national publicity campaign for Andy's care. In the same summer, Mike Puia, a senior journalist for the Island Sun newspaper in the Solomon Islands, visited the Wolfson Medical Center on a delegation tour for Pacific media professionals arranged by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. That day, he met a little girl from Fiji, named Abigail, who had undergone a lifesaving heart procedure through Save a Child's Heart. In a series of articles detailing his trip, Mr. Puia wrote a piece entitled, "Hope for Kids: Israel offers free service for children with heart disease," describing the story of young Abigail and explaining the work of Save a Child's Heart Mike's piece in the Island Sun would prove to be the lifeline that Andy's family needed. Upon reading that "based on medical reports, SACH takes care of the child's travel to Israel, accommodation, and treatment," Andy's mother contacted Mr. Puia, who helped the family apply for treatment through Save a Child's Heart, Almost one year after Andy's life-threatening diagnosis, the Tolobua family was informed that their son would make the journey across the world for lifesaving treatment in Israel. The journey itself took Andy and his mother nearly 14,000KM across the world from the Solomon Islands to New Guinea, where last-minute approval of medical clearance for Andy to fly was requested and obtained moments before takeoff, to Hong Kong, and finally, Israel, where the anxious mother and child arrived with great relief. On July 18, 2019, Andy underwent life-saving heart surgery at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, where he healed. Andy's mother was a fixture of the Children's Home, and a favorite among volunteers and visitors alike. She is ever-grateful for her son's second chance at life.