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Photo: Ofer Amram
Afghan toddler undergoes live-saving surgery in Israel
An Afghan toddler suffering from a congenital heart defect was secretly flown to Israel with his father with the help of Save A Child's Heart, where doctors performed emergency surgery to save his life; local Afghan emigrants help Yakub's father with communication.
A worldwide effort has saved the life of a two-year-old Afghan toddler named Yakub, who was secretly brought to Israel after suffering from a heart defect from birth. The child was rushed to an operating room immediately upon landing at Ben Gurion Airport, where doctors saved his life.

 

 

Yakub was born in a remote village in Baghlan, where soon after his birth, his parents noticed the child did not eat, cried often and did not grow and develop like other children.

 

Yakub
Yakub

 

After seeking out doctor after doctor, a family friend put the parents in touch with a man named Farhad, who dedicated his life to helping sick children in Afghanistan.

 

Farhad made contact with the organization Save A Child's Heart (SACH), based out of Wolfson Medical Center, where doctors analyzed Yakub's tests and decided to operate in an attempt to save his life.

 

Doctors were initially worried that Yakub would not survive the journey to Israel due to low oxygen levels in his blood. However, doctors arranged for Yakub to travel with oxygen and a complicated diplomatic endeavor was undertaken.

 

Passports for the child and his father were secured along with exit and entrance visas from both Afghanistan and Israel. Yakub and his father flew to Israel via Turkey from Afghanistan, where they were met at the airport by Dr. Ilan Cohen, who noticed the child was exhausted and blue.

 

After arriving at the hospital, doctors performed emergency surgery and succeeded in saving Yakub's life. Yakub is currently recovering in the pediatric intensive care unit at Wolfson Medical Center.

 

Yakub's father does not speak English or Arabic and communication is handled by a group of Afghani Jews who live in Israel and speak with Pashtu.

 

"Yakub came to us at the very last minute. He arrived in poor condition, was extremely underweight and we had to revive him twice before getting into the operating room," said Dr. Rachaeli Sion Sarid. "He suffers from a congenital heart defect that prevents blood flow to the lungs and reduces oxygen in the blood. He underwent emergency surgery and his condition is stable. He is breathing alone and he even shook our hands and is eating alone."

 

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