Iraqi-Kurdish baby heads to Israel for urgent surgery after minister intervenes
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Iraqi-Kurdish baby heads to Israel for urgent surgery after minister intervenes

On eve of Sukkot, Interior Ministry approves emergency arrival of newborn with congenital heart condition for life-saving treatment

Illustrative: A father waits while hospital staff attend to his baby, brought to Israel for life-saving heart surgery by Shevet Achim NGO. (Screen capture: Vimeo)
Illustrative: A father waits while hospital staff attend to his baby, brought to Israel for life-saving heart surgery by Shevet Achim NGO. (Screen capture: Vimeo)

An Iraqi baby born with a congenital heart defect will be flown into Israel for life-saving surgery after an emergency appeal to the Interior Ministry just before the Sukkot holiday.

Baby Ahlam, from the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region, suffers from transposition of the great arteries, a fatal syndrome in which the main arteries carrying blood from the heart are reversed.

A spokesperson for Shevet Achim, a Jerusalem-based Christian organization which regularly facilitates medical treatment for patients in Arab countries seeking care in Israel, said the newborn would be flown to Israel Wednesday.

The group had made an emergency appeal to the Interior Ministry for visas for three Kurdish babies suffering from the condition earlier this month.

Iraqi-Kurdish baby Ahlam, en route to Israel for life-saving heart surgery. (Courtesy Shevet Achim)

Just before Sukkot, when the ministry’s offices were closed for the holiday, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri personally intervened and visas for all three were approved. However, one baby had died about the same time the application was first made, and another found help in India while awaiting an answer from Israel.

The group said it was waiting for approval of a visa for a fourth Iraqi Kurdish baby, also suffering from transposition of the great arteries, which it applied for on September 20, but who was not included in the appeal to Deri.

For almost two decades, Shevet Achim has been arranging for Palestinian, Jordanian, Kurdish and now Syrian children to come to Israel to undergo life-saving heart surgery.

According to the organization’s website there are currently five Kurdish babies being treated in the country.

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