Seven Iraqi Children to Be Brought to Israel for Heart Surgery

Initiative organized with int'l rights groups; Israeli, Palestinian doctors perform heart surgery on W. Bank girl.

Civil Administration head Ya'akov Ganot on Sunday granted permission to the Rambam Medical Center and the Shevet Achim Hospital to bring seven Iraqi children with heart diseases to be receive treatment in Israel.

Their entrance into the country was approved by the Shin Bet and the Interior Ministry over the last few days in a quick move intended as part of a wide initiative to treat children in need to immediate medical attention. It usually takes around four months for visas of the sort to be arranged.

The Interior Ministry said Sunday that the intention is to enable all of the children, who range from 2 - 9 years old, to undergo the appropriate testing and to be treated as quickly as possible.

The trip was arranged in coordination with international human rights groups.

In the past, children from Iraq have been brought over to Israel for such surgery as part of an Israeli initiative called Save A Child's Heart (SACH), which aims to treat children from around the world who would otherwise not have access to such operations.

Ganot's announcement Sunday marked the first time Israel has permitted groups other than SACH to bring children from Iraq to Israel for these surgeries.

Earlier this month, two Iraqi children arrived in Israel for emergency open heart surgery as part of the SACH initiative.

Israeli, Palestinian doctors perform heart surgery on W. Bank girl

A team of Israeli and Palestinian doctors performed open-heart surgery on a Palestinian child Sunday near Tel Aviv in an unusual act of cooperation, according to the organization that sponsored the operation.

Malek, a 2 1/2 year-old girl from the West Bank village of Bidya was operated on at a Tel Aviv-area hospital by an international medical team including Israeli and American surgeons, Palestinian anesthesiologists and a Moldovan and Chinese doctor, spokeswoman Rachel Lasry Zahavi said.

The surgery was organized by Save A Child's Heart, an Israel-based international humanitarian group that provides heart operations in Israel for children from developing countries.

A 1 1/2-year-old boy, also from the West Bank, will undergo heart surgery on Monday, Lasry Zahavi said.

Fifteen Palestinian doctors from the West Bank and Gaza were expected to watch the surgeries as they were broadcast live in the medical center's main auditorium, she said.

The group has sponsored operations on more than 1,700 children since its founding in 1996. Almost half of them were Palestinians or from neighboring Arab countries, including Jordan and Iraq, the group said.

The organization was created by physicians at the Edith Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, south of Tel Aviv, and the vast majority of operations are performed there, said Dr. Zion Huri, director of Pediatric Intensive Care at Wolfson.