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Syrian newborn flown to Israel for life-saving heart surgery

Israel has again become a life-saver after a 10-day old Syrian baby born to refugees in Cyprus was airlifted to Tel Aviv Thursday to receive potentially life-saving treatment for his severe heart defect. The baby was born in a refugee camp in Cyprus where his parents had fled to escape the ongoing Syrian civil war. He was diagnosed with a heart defect that the Cypriots were unable to treat. The surgery is scheduled for Monday.

On Friday, the Cyprus Health Ministry sent an urgent request to Israel’s Ambassador to Nicosia Shmuel Rabel for assistance in saving the infant. The Cypriot Health Ministry then organized medical intervention in cooperation with the Israeli Embassy in Cyprus.

“In Cyprus, there is no ability to provide any kind of complex treatment — including heart surgery — for children,” said Sheba children’s hospital deputy director Dr. Itai Pesach in a statement. “The baby is currently in pediatric intensive care and diagnosed with a congenital heart defect.”

The infant received emergency heart surgery at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center. He was later moved to a recovery ward on a respirator.

Israel waived the mandatory 14-day coronavirus quarantine policy for the boy’s father, who is staying at the hospital until his son is approved for travel. The Syrian father and son arrived at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer early Saturday morning and doctors began prepping the infant for surgery.

“We are proud to take part in this young boy’s road to recovery. We wish him and his family health and happiness,” said Yuval Rotem, the Director-General of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign affairs.

VIDEO: Three years ago, another Syrian baby was treated in Israel

From 2013 to 2018, the Israel Defense Forces provided humanitarian and medical assistance to Syrians suffering in their country’s devastating civil war. Injured civilians were allowed to enter Israel to receive medical treatment.

The IDF ended the operation in 2018 after Syrian President Bashar Assad’s troops regained control in southern Syria. Officially, Israel has maintained a policy of non-intervention in the Syrian war and has not taken in any refugees. But the Jewish state has still managed to offer some help to its northern neighbors.

Israel pays all of the expenses for its humanitarian work.

–Dwight Widaman and wire services