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South Sudanese Children Receive Free Heart Surgery in Israel

FILE - Doctors from the "Save A Child's Heart" international humanitarian organization perform heart surgery on a child at an Israeli hospital in Holon, near Tel Aviv, Oct. 21, 2007.

Four South Sudanese children were flown to Tel Aviv last week for life-saving heart surgeries performed by Israel-based humanitarian organizations treating critically ill children from countries where access to pediatric care is limited.

The children, who received surgeries sponsored by nonprofits IsraAID and Save a Child’s Heart, were diagnosed with congenital heart conditions by pediatric cardiologists who visited South Sudan in 2019.

Tamar Kosky Lazarus, the chief development and communications officer for IsraAID who visited South Sudan’s capital Juba early this month, said the children will receive some of the best care while in Israel.

"We are doing a very special initiative and a partnership with a different Israel organization called Save the Child heart which is a medical based organization back in Israel that works with children who have different heart conditions and they basically provide surgery and pre-care and after-care treatment," she said.

Lazarus said the surgeries were delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, five children were supposed to have surgery, but one child’s condition became severe, and the child was flown to India for treatment.

IsraAID flew "four children age 5 to 8 and their care givers to Israel," Lazarus said. "It is a very big deal and we will be providing, essentially helping them get to Israel and then Save the Childs Heart will be working with them to provide medical treatment that they need."

The organization said it would meet the needs of the children and their guardians during their stay in Israel.

Alex Musili, the country director for IsraAID in South Sudan, said the group received new funds for water, sanitation and hygiene projects in South Sudan this year.

"The community have heard a dire need of water and sanitation, and IsraAID is planning now to venture in to water and sanitation and specially hygiene promotion," Musili said.

In South Sudan, IsraAID also focuses on child protection.

IsraAID says it works to provide emergency support, individual counseling and group activities focusing on trauma relief, peer support and livelihood training for survivors of gender-based violence (GBV).