March 9, 2023
When the heart is in the right place: A worldwide mobilization that saved 9-month-old Netsanet; who was born with a fatal heart defect and underwent surgery thanks to the Cross River donation
ISRAEL - When Turie, Netsanet’s mother, received the diagnosis at the hospital in Addis Ababa that her newborn little baby was suffering from a fatal heart defect, she never imagined that a worldwide mobilization would save her home. The "Save a Child's Heart" organization located the girl in Ethiopia, the medical team at Wolfson operated on, and the fintech pioneer from the US funded the surgery for her.
Last week, nine-month-old Netsanet and her mother, Turie returned to Ethiopia after spending more than three months in Israel so that Netsanet would undergo life-saving surgery to correct the fatal heart defect. She came to Israel from the village of Gondar in Ethiopia, having been born into a poor family with no Jewish connection or any connection to the State of Israel. Representatives from Save a Child's Heart from Israel tracked her down after her diagnosis at a hospital in Addis Ababa when she was four months old with a congenital heart defect called Truncus arteriosus (TA) . This deadly, rare, and complex heart disease requires life-saving treatment in the first few months.
This is a complex defect. In a normal heart, there are two large blood vessels. The pulmonary artery transfers blood from the right ventricle to the lungs, while the aorta pumps blood from the left ventricle to the body. In the state of Truncus, there is only one blood vessel. This malformation is always found above a large defect in the interventricular septum.
Truncus surgery is usually performed in the first weeks of the newborn's life. The operation involves the separation of the pulmonary arteries from the main trunk. The surgery to save her, Netsanet could not receive in Ethiopia due to the lack of advanced medicine and appropriate means. While the representatives of Save a Child's Heart prepared what was needed for the journey, they made sure to raise the cost of the operation from Cross River, the fintech pioneer from New Jersey, USA, which immediately mobilized for the operation and provided full funding of $15,000 to save Netsanet.
In January, Turie and Netsanet landed in Israel, and she was immediately admitted to the intensive care unit at Sylvan Adams Children's Hospital in Wolfson, where they began to feed her through the nose so that she could reach a weight that allowed her to be operated on. At the same time, the medical team began to plan the complex surgery using advanced Israeli technology that enables the use of CT scans and the preparation of an accurate 3D model that would help the surgeons plan the surgery - from where a personal “GPS map” of the heart of little Netsanet. After surgery, she was housed in the organization's children's home in Holon, where she fully recovered from medical treatment.
Uriel Goldberg, Director of Public Relations and Communications at Cross River Israel, said: "We are thrilled to have been part of the amazing operation led by Save a Child's Heart to save Netsanet’s life, and I hope that we gave her the opportunity to start her life and develop like any other person. It is a tremendous privilege for us to save lives and is an integral part of our mission to the world."
Dr. Lior Sasson, Director of the Pediatric and Adolescent Cardiothoracic Unit at Wolfson who operated on Netsanet, said: "Despite the complex surgery, we managed to operate on Netsanet's heart without complications, there is no doubt that the technology has provided us with another important tool that led to the success of the surgery."
Simon Fisher, Executive Director of Save a Child's Heart: "We are very grateful to Cross River for the contribution that has given Netsanet a second chance at life. At Save a Child's Heart, we believe in Tikun Olam, and it's exciting to see how worldwide teamwork helps us provide every child in the world with optimal medical care, regardless of religion, race or gender. "
Save a Child's Heart is an Israeli humanitarian organization that works internationally to save the lives of children with heart disease from countries where access to pediatric heart medicine does not exist or is limited. The organization was established in 1995 at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon. Since its inception, the organization has saved more than 6,500 children with heart disease from 68 countries around the world and brought more than 140 medical personnel to Israel to undergo training and receive the necessary tools to treat children independently and establish centres of excellence in their countries of origin.