Last week, a Syrian baby boy was flown from Cyprus to Israel, where life-saving heart surgery was performed at Sheba Medical Center. After an emergency operation to correct his congenital heart defect, the newborn was moved to a recovery ward. Presently, he is on a respirator and recuperating, according to an official Sheba representative.
The baby will require a few weeks to recover sufficiently for safe travel. Until then, the baby’s father will be staying with him in the hospital.
This surgery marks the first time that Sheba treated an emergency patient brought in from overseas since the start of the global coronavirus pandemic. Prior to the spread of COVID-19, these types of cases were common. In the past, many patients from countries that have diplomatic ties with Israel and from countries that are not allies, such as Iraq and Syria, have been provided with expert medical care in Israel.
Sammy Revel, Israel’s ambassador to Cyprus, said that bringing the boy to Sheba was an initiative that required intricate coordination with Cyprus’s health ministry and special approval from Jerusalem.
For five years, from 2013 to 2018, Israel sustained a program along the Syrian border to allow local residents who were affected by the civil war to enter Israel for medical treatment. In the summer of 2018, when Syrian dictator Bashar Assad assumed control of southern Syria, that program was officially ended.