Every 29 hours, the pediatric cardiac surgical unit of Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) saves a desperately ill child from a developing country, in one of their medical facilities in Israel or as part of one of their medical missions to a developing country. Thanks to this organization, thousands of children from poor families are alive and healthy today.

Based in Israel, SACH, with no political, cultural, religious, or racial preference saves children who have almost no chance of surviving to adulthood in their native countries. SACH personnel have already saved more than 4000 children from more than fifty countries, while thousands more are receiving the life-saving treatments they need from local personnel who were previously trained by SACH. Additionally, they have started construction of a new Children’s Hospital at the Wolfson Medical Center that will house the Middle East’s first international pediatric cardiac care center.

We are very proud that ICRWU partnered with SACH in a campaign to hand out Valentine’s Day themes candy and encourage donations. Our campaign raised over $300 to go towards the organization’s mission. Each person who donated had the opportunity to put their name on our Heart Wall and seeing the transformation became one the most meaningful parts of the campaign. Initially, we only had a few hearts pasted on the wall while most of the white background remained visible. However, after five days of tabling, there was hardly any space left for new donors to add their names. Knowing that each of those hearts meant that we were one step, one dollar, closer to saving a child’s life was incredibly fulfilling.

CWRU with the Heart Wall, which was full by the end of the campaign!

To culminate our efforts, we screened a film produced by SACH called “A Heartbeat Away.” The event was co-sponsored by CAMERA and we were able to provide a learning experience for many members of the campus community. The documentary interviewed several doctors in Israel who work with SACH and told the stories of some of the children they were able to help. One such story was of a 6 year-old boy named Julius who arrived the clinic at Tanzania in critical condition, and was treated by Doctor Akiva Tamir, who was forced to choose whether to operate on the child, who had very little chances of surviving. Dr. Tamir and his team have to deal with the most serious questions of who to treat and who will be left to die.

Prior to the screening, we were fortunate enough to host Dr. James Strainic, a pediatric cardiologist at Rainbow Babies & Children Hospital. Dr. Strainic spoke about the importance of SACH and how it relates to the work he does at Rainbow, which helped us deepen our connection to both SACH and our own medical community. After the screening, he took questions and taught us about the specific procedures that were depicted. President of Israel’s CWRU, Samantha Jacobs, said that the event and fundraising were really meaningful to her, “It was amazing to see the community come together to raise money for an organization that they had not previously heard about.” The goal of Israel’s CWRU is to put on events that other students can relate to while maintaining a strong connection to Israel.

Dr. Strainic talking to the students about the importance of SACH

Contributed by Hannah Pomeranz, CAMERA Fellow at Case Western Reserve University

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