Hamza with his mother and Save a Child’s Heart staff members. (Save a Child’s Heart)

Born with a life-threatening congenital heart disease, two-year-old Hamza from Ramallah underwent complicated open-heart surgery in Israel and returned home last week. 

A little Palestinian boy has returned home from Israel after undergoing life-saving heart surgery at the Save a Child’s Life clinic in the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, known for operating on the hearts of thousands of children from around the world.

Hamza Ali Mohammed was born with life-threatening congenital heart disease and had his first surgery as an infant, but he needed a second operation to survive. He underwent open heart surgery by the SACH volunteer medical team in February and had been hospitalized since then during the coronavirus crisis.

“His recovery was very complicated and they had to connect him to a machine that kept him alive for a few weeks,” said Dr Racheli Sion Sarid of the hospital’s pediatric ICU.

Hamza was very close to death several times.

“I was sure he wouldn’t make it, but every time, somehow, it felt like some kind of a miracle. There is some kind of magic with these children,” she said.

Things got even more complicated after Hamza’s parents were stuck in their home city of Ramallah after they went for a short visit to see their other children but could not return due to coronavirus lockdown.

“The whole medical team in the Pediatric Cardiology unit became his parents,” said Dr Ahmed Amer, an Israeli-Arab physician who is part of the SACH medical team. Dr. Amer became the main contact person for Hamza’s parents, since he speaks Arabic.

“We all became his family. The nurses did shifts to hold him in their arms and play with him. We did not leave him alone for a minute. A child his age and in his condition needs to be hugged and loved in order to recover and get stronger, and that’s exactly what we did.”

Dr Amer spoke with Hamza’s parents every day, sent them pictures and videos and updated them on his recovery. As Hamza’s condition improved, he was able to communicate with his parents through video calls.

“The first few times he saw them on video he began crying and it took us a long time to calm him down,” said Dr Amer, “But he got used to it and we even celebrated his birthday a couple of weeks ago together with his parents on video.”

On May 7, Hamza left the hospital accompanied by both Dr. Racheli and Dr. Ahmed, who traveled with him to Hizma, where Hamza’s parents waited to be reunited with their son.

In tears, Hamza’s mother thanked the medical team, “We are so grateful for the care you all gave us, the expertise – the high level of expertise, skill, humanity, and conscience.”

“His story is amazing,” said Dr. Racheli. “It is a story about a medical team who fought tirelessly for the life of a critically ill child, a story of a brave little boy who survived against all odds, and a story of people, of human beings, helping each other regardless of their origin and religion. This is the story of Save a Child’s Heart.”

Save a Child’s Heart is an international non-profit organization that has provided care to more than 5,400 children from 62 countries in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and South America. SACH has also trained more than 120 medical professionals from those countries and does the work regardless nationality, religion, color, gender, or financial means.