The Times of Israel accompanies the first Syrian heart patient in Israel — a four-year-old girl whose family put her life in the hands of the enemy — on the final stage of an unprecedented journey
On a sunny morning earlier this week, a Syrian woman and her four-year-old daughter walked out their front door, heading to the girl’s final checkup at the hospital after a complex operation. They clambered into a car parked in the adjacent dirt lot. The little girl struggled briefly as she was buckled in, but settled down when her mother slid in next to her. Any time a child recovers from surgery is noteworthy. But this story is truly unique — unprecedented, remarkable, heartwarming and inspiring. The Syrian mother and child were not in their war-torn homeland, nor were they walking through the tough streets of the refugee camps where hundreds of thousands of their countrymen had fled.
They were in the heart of Jerusalem, minutes from Zion Square and City Hall. And I was traveling with them to Holon’s Wolfson Hospital for the little girl’s last echocardiogram less than a month after her heart surgery.
The two Syrians had fled the brutal civil war, taking refuge in a neighboring country. The little girl, Nadrah (her real name, along with the location her family currently calls home — is being withheld to protect her identity), suffered from a congenital heart disease, single ventricle physiology. The malformation did not allow her blood to be properly oxygenated by her lungs, giving Nadrah a bluish complexion. Untreated, she wouldn’t see her 18th birthday.
Yet, here she was, giggling in the back of the car. Robust, ruddy, a little mischievous — and in Israel.
They had been brought to Israel by Shevet Achim, an Israel-based Christian organization that has been arranging for Palestinian, Jordanian, Kurdish and now Syrian children to come to Israel for almost two decades to undergo life-saving heart surgery.
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