TEL AVIV – A baby from Iraqi Kurdistan who was born with a congenital heart defect is being flown to Israel for life-saving surgery.
The Interior Ministry granted visas for three Kurdish babies following an emergency appeal before the Sukkot holiday from the Jerusalem-based group Shevet Achim, which organizes medical treatment in Israel for patients from Arab countries.
Baby Ahlam’s main arteries are reversed, a heart defect known as TGA.
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri personally granted visas for all three since his ministry was closing for the holidays. According to the Times of Israel, one baby didn’t survive while another received treatment in India in the meantime.
According to Shevet Achim, a fourth Iraqi Kurdish baby suffering from TGA was also awaiting a visa.
Shevet Achim, which is a Christian group, has arranged for Palestinian, Jordanian, Kurdish and now Syrian children to come to Israel to receive life-saving heart surgery for more than two decades. Its website says there are currently five Kurdish babies being treated in the country.
The Jewish Israeli group Save a Child’s Heart also brings children from the Palestinian territories and other Arab countries to undergo treatment in Israel.
According to Itai Pessach, deputy director of the children’s hospital at Sheba Medical Center, at any one time some 30 percent of the 355 beds in his department are occupied by children from enemy states.