JERUSALEM, Israel -- Three Iraqi children, ages 1, 4, 5, are coming to Israel this week for open-heart surgery. Israel has no diplomatic ties with Iraq, yet treats children -- usually without any charge to the family -- who otherwise wouldn't make it.
Save a Child's Heart, an Israeli-based organization established in 1996, has treated about 3,000 children from Iraq, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana and Zanzibar, China, Georgia and Romania, among others, with congenital heart defects. Children from the Palestinian Authority have also received life-saving surgery.
The organization is also involved in training doctors from developing countries. After a five-year surgical residency in Israel, the doctors take the skills they've learned back to their own countries.
The life-saving surgeries breaks down barriers between people from many different backgrounds working together to "save a child's heart."
"We save children who would otherwise not have made it because they could not get treatment," Wolfson Medical Center Chief of Cardiovascular Surgery Dr. Lior Sasson told YNet, adding that many of the families hail from nations considered enemies of the Jewish state.
Save a Child's Heart Executive Director Simon Fisher told CBN News the program "is a very positive message, which it sends out from Israel about people working together from different nationalities and different regions for the best of our children."