“When I was one year old, my father died in the war between Israel and Egypt and I was left with a broken heart, which has no good treatment in the cath lab or the operating room,” says Sagi Assa (Wolfson Medical Center, Holon, Israel) telling Cardiovascular News the driving force behind his career in paediatric interventional cardiology.
This early trauma is perhaps one motivating factor that led Assa to become one of around 140 physicians working with the Israel-based humanitarian organisation Save a Child’s Heart, which, over its 25-year existence, has helped to deliver more than 6,000 interventional and surgical cardiac procedures to children from 63 countries, including some of the most impoverished and politically challenging regions of the world.
Through Save a Child’s Heart, children suffering with congenital heart disease—who would otherwise struggle to access treatment—are offered cutting-edge care, with costs including travel, accommodation and treatment, funded entirely by the charity. Much of this work extends to Africa, where Save a Child’s Heart has treated children from 28 countries to date. But, it is the organisation’s work with children closer to home, in Gaza and the West Bank—making up around 50% of the overall intake—that has garnered the most attention.