Photo Credit: courtesy, Save a Heart
Amir from Gaza awaits open-heart surgery at Wolfson Medical Israel's Center.

Five-year-old Amir Yichya Mabchuch, a resident of Jabaliya, will arrive in Israel from Gaza on Friday with his grandmother to undergo open heart surgery, courtesy of the Save a Child’s Heart organization.

The surgery is scheduled to take place Sunday at Israel’s Wolfson Medical Center.

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Amir, who lives with his parents and younger sister, caught a virus at the age of two months. His mother Maha took him to the local family doctor — Dr. Youssef Alaf — who checked the infant and identified a heart defect resulting from a blockage in one of his coronary arteries.

“Already at that age we understood that Amir would require an operation to fix the defect,” his mother said.

Young Amir’s condition has a significant impact on his quality of life. He is unable to perform simple actions like other children of his age and must always be careful when exerting himself; he is not allowed to run for any length of time and even walks can place a potentially life-threatening strain on his heart.

Amir has grown up under constant medical supervision. During one of his visits to his doctor, the family was told about the Israeli NGO, Save a Child’s Heart, that brings children to Israel from the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria for life-saving operations.

“When the doctor told us there was a possibility for Israeli doctors to carry out the complicated operation Amir needed, we were so happy. Everyone here in Gaza talks about how Israeli doctors are the most professional in the world and that they can be trusted completely. The doctor put us in contact with the organization, and that was how we started the process toward open-heart surgery.”

On Friday, the child will be brought from Gaza to Israel with his grandmother.

“Amir is very excited ahead of the operation and he is happy to be going back to Israel. Last time, when he came for a preliminary checkup at Wolfson Medical Center, he was so happy with all the games at the hospital and he told me that he wants to stay in Israel, he doesn’t want to go home to Gaza,” Amir’s mother says.

Amir is the 3,000th child from Gaza, Judea and Samaria to come to Israel for lifesaving surgery supported by Save a Child’s Heart.

Since its founding in 1995, Save a Child’s Heart has brought thousands of children to Israel from all over the world for lifesaving heart operations, with an emphasis on children from the developing world and countries without diplomatic relations with Israel.

Over the years, more than 6,000 children have come to Israel from 65 different countries near and far.

“I know there is always tension between Gaza and Israel, but that doesn’t change my child’s story,” Amir’s mother says. “I trust the Israeli doctors and I know they will save my boy’s life.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.