Seriously ill Syrian baby recovering after major heart surgery in Israel

Seriously ill Syrian baby recovering after major heart surgery in Israel

Young child born to refugee family from Aleppo is recuperating at Ramat Gan’s Sheba hospital following complex operation

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

A seriously ill baby boy, born to Syrian refugees who had fled to Cyprus, is making a good and steady recovery this week in Israel’s Sheba Hospital after major heart surgery.

The baby, just six months old, is the youngest child of a family who fled from Aleppo to Cyprus at the height of the Syrian civil war. He was born with congenital heart problems and has already received treatment at Ramat Gan’s Sheba, performed by Dr David Mishaly, who heads the hospital’s department of paediatric and congenital cardiothoracic surgery.

Earlier this year the child was stabilised, but because of his size and condition the family was told that he would need at least two more delicate operations. On Sunday Dr Mishaly and his team performed open heart surgery on the baby — and on Tuesday morning Sheba medics reported that he was “wide awake, smiling, crying, while doctors examined him. His father smiled from ear to ear as he told his baby son to go to sleep and rest”.

Details of the baby’s treatment — including his family’s name and who has paid for the operations — are being kept under wraps by the hospital. But it is understood that the family made contact with the Cyprus Ministry of Health when the child was born, and were told that Cyprus did not have the facilities to treat him. With the help of Israel’s ambassador to Cyprus, Sammy Revel, the parents flew to Ramat Gan earlier this year for the first operation.

This week the Syrian father, who is being given accommodation for 10 days by Sheba while his baby recovers, said he was extremely happy.with the treatment. He and his family have been exchanging help and support with both Jewish and Palestinian parents of other child patients.

Children’s ward at Sheba medical centre

Dr Mishaly said: “When [this baby] was born, everything in his heart region was messed up. Without surgery, he would certainly have died. The first thing we did was to create a proper flow of blood to his heart and lungs. On Sunday, we performed a second, very complex, operation.

“He will recuperate for about a week and then return to Cyprus. When he is two and a half, he will need more surgery, so his heart will function in a better manner, and he will hopefully be able to live a normal life”.

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