Over two million Israeli students returned to school on September 1, including thousands of excited children entering first grade and attending school for the first time.
But one child who won’t get to begin first grade with her friends is Phylis, a sweet six-year-old girl who came to Israel from Zambia to receive lifesaving surgery for a heart defect unexpectedly discovered two years ago.
Phylis was brought to Israel for the surgery through the intervention of Save a Child's Heart, whose activities have saved the lives of 6,000 children with heart disease from 64 countries around the world by bringing them to Israel to undergo lifesaving surgery.
When she was four years old, Phylis (“Fifi” to her family and friends) began experiencing recurring and persistent fainting spells, and her fingers and lips suddenly turned blue.
After several rounds of tests, she was found to have a congenital heart defect known as TOF, which damages the walls between the ventricles and affects the blood flow through the heart. Phylis needed urgent treatment to save her heart and her life.
Little Fifi arrived in Israel a few days ago to undergo surgery at the Ida Cabakoff International Pediatric Cardiac Center for Save a Child's Heart.
She arrived together with her mother, their hearts filled with worry.
“We knew we were in good hands because I know another child who had surgery in Israel, and everything went smoothly and today he is healthy. Everyone here treated us wonderfully when we arrived," says Phylis’ mother Muyano.
"Phylis was really looking forward to the first day of first grade. She dreams of being a teacher herself, and she had waited for this day for so long. I explained to her that we are here so she can go back to school with a healthy heart, and that she has her whole life ahead of her to learn, play and attend school with her friends. For now, the most important thing is to take care of her heart and return home healthy and whole."
In the meantime, Phylis talks to her friends on video chat, catching up on what they did during the first days of school that she missed. Her friends are excitedly waiting for her to come back and join them at school.
Dr. Lior Sasson, director of the Ida Cabakoff International Pediatric Cardiac Center for Save a Child's Heart: “Little Phylis from Zambia happened to arrive at the start of the new school year. She might be missing the first few days of first grade, but thanks to the surgery she received here, she will enjoy a healthy heart and a fuller, longer, better life. I wish her a full recovery and a speedy return to school and the friends she misses so much.”