Four-year old Imad owes his life to an Israeli heart surgeon. And even though Imad’s father is a Palestinian Arab, living in Nablus, he is eternally grateful to the doctors who saved his son’s life.
“I don’t have anything against the Jewish nation,” he said. “Israel can have enemies, but when it comes to this kind of thing [heart care], Israel doesn’t see identity. They don’t look at the ID card.”
Imad was operated on when he was just one month old, in 2008. “Everything was very good. They took great care of us. Nothing could have been better,” said his father. Imad received life-saving treatment through the Save A Child’s Heart Foundation, an association of Israeli heart surgeons who perform free emergency surgeries on non-Israeli children, mostly from the Middle East and Africa.
Since 1995 the foundation, based at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, has saved the lives of more than 3,000 children born with serious, life-threatening heart defects.
In December 2012, the foundation sent a special team into the Palestinian city of Nablus in northern Samaria. The purpose of this visit was to interview the families of some of their young patients who received treatments several years ago. All the families interviewed shared one thing in common: they all remained very grateful for the excellent medical care their children had received in Israel paid for by strangers.
After surgery, the children stay in the hospital for a recovery of one to two months. The mothers usually stay with the children and the fathers come for visits. “I have never felt more welcome than in the Wolfson Center by Israelis much more than in our local hospitals in Nablus,” said seven-year-old Amjad’s mother. The families are extremely impressed with the care and hospitality they receive, altering their outlook of their Jewish neighbors for the better. Many of the Palestinian families live in small, unheated concrete apartments, usually shared by six to ten people. The state of the local health clinics and hospitals are said to be poor, with many unskilled doctors. Although these conditions are challenging, many of the Palestinians now know they have a helping hand on the Jewish side.