Reaching out to Palestinian children:
Israelís Save A Childís Heart project

Published: 1 August 2010
Briefing Number 267

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Summary:  This Briefing outlines the activities of the Israeli humanitarian organisation Save A Child’s Heart (SACH), which provides free heart treatment to children from around the world.  More than half of the 2400 children who have been treated at SACH have been Palestinian Arab children from Gaza and the West Bank.   Most of the operations carried out by SACH are life-saving.    

SACH’s website can be found at It contains a wealth of information about its activities, as well as YouTube videos, and profiles of the children who have received surgery, and their family stories.

Building future cooperation – an insight from director Simon Fisher

“We at Save A Child’s Heart hold a free cardiology clinic at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon every Tuesday for Palestinian children from the West Bank and Gaza strip, regardless of the regional political atmosphere.  The clinics took place even during the war in Gaza.  Even in the worst of times, our programmes continue.

We find that on both sides, regardless of Hamas, Fatah or any other organisation, there is always cooperation…. The day after the flotilla incident, the kids from Gaza turned up as usual.  We treat an average of 10 each week, referred to us by 10 Palestinian physicians in the West Bank and Gaza….

The common concern – that of the health of our children – helps to eradicate the mutual distrust and forms a platform for future cooperation…”      

  • Simon Fisher, quoted in report dated 12 July 2010 called ‘Getting to the heart of the matter’ from Israel 21c –

Key facts about Save A Child’s Heart

  • Save A Child’s Heart (SACH) is an Israeli humanitarian organisation which provides life-saving heart treatment to children from around the world who suffer from heart disease, but who cannot access heart treatment in their home countries
  • Save A Child’s Heart is based at the Wolfson Medical Centre in the central Israeli town of Holon, south of Tel-Aviv
  • Over 2400 children have received operations at SACH since it was founded in 1995. The children have been flown in from countries around the world like Vietnam, El Salvador, Zanzibar and over 40 other countries
  • Around 1200 – ie 50% - of the children who have been operated upon at SACH have been Palestinian Arab children from Gaza and the West Bank
  • SACH has also treated Sunni Arab children from Iraq.  We reported on one improvised SACH day clinic for Iraqi children which was set up in Amman in Jordan, in October 2007.  That project resulted in two children been rushed to hospital in Israel to receive life-saving emergency surgery: for details see Beyond Images Briefing 204
  • As well as providing surgery, SACH trains doctors including Palestinian doctors and nurses in diagnosing heart problems, and in basic treatments.   The Palestinian doctors return to their clinics in Bethlehem, Nablus and elsewhere, empowered and better equipped 
  • SACH also sends medical training missions as far afield as China and Angola  
  • SACH is staffed by over 70 Israeli volunteers who work there in addition to their regular work.  The volunteers include experienced and top-grade cardiologists, doctors, anaesthetists, nurses, paramedics and others
  • In July 2010 Save A Child’s Heart received a large new donation from the Israeli Ministry of Regional Cooperation, to support life-saving surgery for 100 Iraqi, Palestinian and Jordanian children
  • Successive Israeli governments have indirectly subsidised the work of SACH, but SACH is independent, and a charity
  • Save A Child’s Heart recently received some funding from the European Union. It also receives private donations for its work
  • In 2008, SACH was highlighted by the Israeli Foreign Ministry as a model project of cooperation, in the course of the national celebrations for Israel’s sixtieth birthday.           

A related Beyond Images Briefing

Beyond Images Briefing 214 – May 2008
Israel: making the world a better place