A 4-year-old Syrian refugee from the besieged city of Homs underwent surgery recently at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, the first time a Syrian has been operated on at the pediatric cardiology ward.
The boy, Mohammed Hamudi, was born with a rare heart condition, reversed ventricles. A surgical team led by Dr. Dudi Mishali operated on Hamudi, who arrived in Israel accompanied by his father. The surgeons managed to implant a pacemaker in the boy's heart with a long-lasting battery, probably saving his life.
"This was a complicated surgery that gave us two options. Either we could have operated regularly on him, allowing him to live another 15 to 20 years, or we could have chosen the harder, more complicated option granting him, all things considered, the lifespan of a healthy person," Mishali said. "We chose the harder surgery because we thought this choice was a better one. I am very pleased that the surgery was extraordinarily successful and the boy was released after a few days."
The boy's father told Israel Hayom the story of the family's grueling journey, which began when the family escaped the fighting in Homs, fleeing Jordan and temporarily resettling at a refugee camp. Several of his family members have died in the fighting in Syria over the past two years, the father said. Hamudi's mother and brother stayed behind in Jordan after Israel only allowed his father to accompany him to Tel Hashomer for the operation.
The father painted a picture of constant, life-threatening turmoil in his home country.
"In Syria, every mother is saying she wishes her sick children could go to Israel for surgery, because we hear all the time about Israel treating the wounded in the Golan [Heights]," he said. "When they brought him for care at the refugee camp, I knew our dream would be fulfilled. The Israeli doctors brought him back to life, and I am happy to have met this country."
Hamudi's ability to travel to Sheba for medical procedures was organized through careful coordination by the Jordanian authorities and the Israeli Interior Ministry. The boy and his father were able to travel freely between the countries despite not having passports or visas.
An Israeli aid official said another Syrian refugee, a 17-year-old teenage boy, needs urgent heart surgery, but his entry to Israel has so far been blocked due to bureaucracy.
"I can't describe this feeling, saving a life," Mishali said, with Hamudi and his father by his side. "A child is a child. When you see the tears of his father or mother, you don't really need a translator, you understand."