A 10-day-old Syrian baby boy was flown into Israel from Cyprus on Thursday morning for an emergency procedure to correct a congenital heart defect, according to the Sheba Medical Center.
The infant received the surgery and was moved to a recovery ward, on a respirator, later in the day, a spokesman for the Ramat Gan hospital told The Times of Israel.
It was the first time that Sheba — often ranked as one of the world’s top hospitals — received such an emergency case from abroad since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the spokesman.
Such situations were common before the outbreak, and they involved not just allies of Israel, but also countries with which the government in Jerusalem does not have diplomatic ties, like Syria and Iraq.
The baby’s father will be staying at the hospital until doctors determine that the child is was well enough to travel, which will likely take several weeks, the spokesman said.
Israel’s ambassador to Cyprus, Sammy Revel, said the effort to bring the boy to Sheba required “special approval” from Jerusalem and coordination by Cyprus’s health ministry.
From 2013 to 2018, Israel maintained a program along the Syrian border allowing residents of the area, who were affected by the country’s civil war, to enter Israel for medical treatment. That effort formally ended in the summer of 2018 when Syrian dictator Bashar Assad took control of southern Syria.