For these Arabs and Israelis, the Only Common Enemy is Heart Disease. Nearing its ten-year anniversary, A Heart for Peace’s mixed team of Israeli and Palestinian doctors at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital has cared for 607 Palestinian children, with no thought to borders and citizenship. And at no charge.
Two years ago, Baby Saleh was rushed from Ramallah to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital for his first heart surgery. He returned a few months later for a nine-hour operation. Today, Saleh is a healthy preschooler, and his parents bring him for regular checkups to a pediatric cardiology clinic in Ramallah established by A Heart for Peace in 2012, now managed by Palestinians trained by the organization.
At A Heart for Peace, no Palestinian child has ever been denied treatment.
“There are at least 600 families who look at us as people who did something good for them,” says Prof. Azaria JJT Rein, head of pediatric cardiology at Hadassah and cofounder of A Heart for Peace, which cares for Palestinian children suffering from congenital heart diseases.
A Heart for Peace has trained
- Five Palestinian doctors to perform echocardiograms and catheterizations
- 197 general practitioners to do early screenings
- One technician each in echocardiography, stress-test and Holter electrocardiography
- For Palestinian parents, this care is free. Half of the average $15,000 cost is borne by Hadassah, and half by the Paris-based organization.
Doctors in Gaza or the West Bank consult with Rein about the children, sharing data over mobile applications like WhatsApp. After paperwork is filed, passage is arranged for the child and (usually) the mother or grandmother to Hadassah or other hospitals. Ambulance transport comes via Magen David Adom, the Israeli Red Cross.
A Heart for Peace also provides equipment for post-op care in the territories. Screenings take place twice weekly, and seminars are offered to educate about congenital cardiopathology. A Heart for Peace just opened a pediatric cardiology clinic in Hebron.
“Thanks to you, our life shines every day. Thank you for the hope you gave us. We thank you with all our heart for what you have done for us and for all that you do for all the other families such as ours.”
From the letter of appreciation sent to A Heart for Peace by the Saifs, Saleh’s parents
President and co-founder Muriel Haim adds: “These children are living proof that cooperation exists between Jerusalem and the West Bank. Beneficiaries are the families, the trained doctors, and the Israeli and Palestinian people who get to know each other better.”
“A Heart for Peace is a wonderful Israeli initiative to foster Israeli-Palestinian cooperation, break down barriers and save lives,” affirms Marcella Rosen, President of Untold News, a nonprofit news service founded in 2010 to highlight Israeli innovation and humanitarian acts.