The SACH mission is achieved in three ways:Providing life-saving cardiac surgery and other life-saving procedures for children from developing countries at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, Israel, near Tel Aviv;
Providing an in-depth outreach post-graduate training program for medical personnel from these developing countries in Israel;
Sending staff overseas to provide this education to local medical professionals, as well as to perform surgeries side-by-side with them.
As of June 2016, SACH has brought more than 4,000 children to Israel from countries that include Ethiopia, Vietnam, Jordan, Moldova, Tanzania, Russia, the Philippines, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Angola Iraq, Haiti, St. Vincent, Trinidad, Ecuador, Mauritania, Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Congo,Zimbabwe, Zanzibar, Rwanda, Somalia, Eritrea, Sri Lanka, China, Kazakhstan, Romania, Ukraine, and Syria, as well as from Gaza and the West Bank (the Palestinian Territories). About half the patients treated over the years are Arabs from the West Bank, Gaza and Iraq, and the other half from the other countries listed. In December 2010 the first child from Indonesia was brought to Israel by SACH and underwent successful surgery in January 2011.
Medical personnel who have trained with SACH in Israel have come from China, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Moldova, Nigeria, Vietnam and Zanzibar, as well as from the Palestinian Authority. SACH has instructed hundreds of physicians and nurses during 60 medical missions to China, Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Mauritania, Moldova, Nigeria, Russia, Ukraine, Vietnam and Zanzibar.
SACH's doctors and medical personnel completely volunteer their time and services for this project, with the only costs (about $10,000 US) used to provide post-surgical care at SACH’s Children’s Home in Israel for an average stay of about three months. Children are brought to Israel from their home country in groups of four to six, accompanied by a nurse or, if they are under age three, by a family member.
Save a Child’s Heart Foundation U.S. has been certified by Independent Charities of America as one of about 2,000 “Best in America” charities, verification that its “fund-raising materials and other information to the public is truthful and non-deceptive” and that it provides “documented provision of substantive services.” Save a Child’s Heart Foundation U.S. has received the Independent Charities Seal of Excellence, awarded to the members of Independent Charities of America and Local Independent Charities of America that have, upon rigorous independent review, been able to certify, document, and demonstrate, on an annual basis, that they meet the highest standards of public accountability, program effectiveness, and cost effectiveness. These standards include those required by the U.S. Government for inclusion in the Combined Federal Campaign. Of the 1,000,000 charities operating in the United States today, it is estimated that fewer than 50,000, or 5 percent, meet or exceed these standards, and, of those, fewer than 2,000 have been awarded this Seal."
Save a Child's Heart is the creation of Dr. Amram Cohen, and grew out of Cohen’s experiences as a doctor serving with the U.S. Armed Forces in Korea in 1988, where he joined a program that helped poor local children with heart disease. The experience introduced him to a network of doctors doing similar work in developing countries, inspiring him to start his own program after moving to Israel in 1992. He brought three Ethiopian children to Israel for heart surgery in 1996, and then went on to make use of a network of professional and personal contacts to build a volunteer organization to help others for whom the operations were unavailable or too expensive.
Through a foundation he established, Save a Child's Heart, Dr. Cohen and other surgeons conducted hundreds of operations on children with congenital heart diseases, mostly at the Wolfson Medical Center, where Dr. Cohen was the head of pediatric cardiac surgery and served as Save a Child’s Heart’s chief surgeon.
Children were also brought from Nigeria, Tanzania, Congo, Moldova, Russia, Ghana, Vietnam, Ecuador, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. Dr. Cohen and his team also traveled to China and Ethiopia to operate on about 60 children and taught medical staff there and in other countries. His foundation helped bring doctors and nurses to Israel for training, with the aim of creating centers for treatment of pediatric heart disease in their home countries. Dr. Cohen died on August 16, 2001, while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. He was 47.
Since Dr. Cohen’s death, SACH has continued its efforts to benefit children with life-threatening cardiac problems and to teach medical personnel in developing nations the surgical techniques needed to treat these young patients.
In 2006, SACH was selected as a featured charity by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Air Cares program, with the airline showing a video of the charity’s work on board its flights. The airline also donated EUR10,000 and donated free air miles to SACH.
In April, 2007, Israeli musician Idan Raichel traveled with Save a Child's Heart to Rwanda and Ethiopia.
In May 2011, SACH received recognition for special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations
In November 2011, a new children’s home was inaugurated. The facility was built specifically to meet the needs of the young patients and staff and will allow Save a Child’s Heart to house and treat a larger number of the children.
In June 2012, SACH received the Israeli Presidential Award for Volunteerism.
Save a Child's Heart has treated over 3,200 children from 45 developing nations in Israeli hospitals.
In 2013, amidst the Syrian Civil War, SACH conducted an open-heart surgery on a 5-year old Syrian girl. The pre-schooler, living as a refugee in an undisclosed country, traveled to the Wolfson Medical Hospital in Holon to receive the treatment. She was the first Syrian child to receive the free medical care and surgery.
China – On November 16, 2008, a Save a Child's Heart (SACH) training and surgical mission left for Shijiazhuang in the Hebei Province in China. This was SACH's 8th mission to China where its medical teams have saved, in conjunction with Chinese colleagues, more than 100 Chinese children. The team’s surgeon, Dr. Lior Sasson, worked in China with Dr. Han Jiangang, a surgeon who trained in Israel in 2007. Another Chinese surgeon, Dr. Wang Ming Hai, is now in Israel taking part in the SACH training program at the Wolfson Medical Center. The 15-person medical team was joined by a film crew, which followed them and the small Chinese patients during a very hectic and emotional week. A photo exhibition of SACH’s work was displayed in Hebei, China, the city the medical work was performed, during the week that the SACH mission was there. The photographs in the exhibition include photographs taken during previous SACH missions to China.
Angola - On May 3, 2009, a Save a Child’s Heart medical team left for Luanda, Angola, to examine and screen Angolan children. The team took with them a portable echo machine and worked alongside pediatric cardiologist Dr. Christina Gamboa in the Luanda Children's Hospital. The team — cardiologist Dr. Alona Raucher and Nava Gershon, Head Nurse of the Pediatric Surgical ward — examined 88 children. Among them were children who had been treated in Israel and needed a follow up examination.
Moldova – On November 11, 2007, a SACH team of four physicians, four nurses and two perfusionists, along with more than 20 boxes of medical supplies arrived in Kishinev, Moldova, to work with a team of local pediatric cardiologists. The mixed surgical group examined children and performed surgeries for five days. Among the local physicians was Dr. Liviu Maniuk, who had trained in Israel in 2006. Several of the surgeries were filmed by a local TV network, for future broadcast on Moldovan television. Among the patients checked were two who had been operated on in Israel years before, including 16-year-old Alexander Manea, who had been operated on when he was four by SACH founder Amram Cohen, and 11-year-old Vasil Pahomi, who had been operated on when he was two. Both children are now healthy. Alexander says he would like to be a doctor when he grows up.
Tanzania – In August 2011, a SACH team of Doctors, Nurses, Staff and Volunteers traveled to Tanzania to the Bugando Medical Center to work alongside local partners. During this Mission SACH, together with the local partners screened 300 children and performed 12 surgeries on Ethiopian children. A week later, a team of SACH volunteers, doctors and staff climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in an effort to raise $1M to save the lives of African children in need.
SACH Photo Exhibit Tours the Globe
Since 2008, a photo exhibit of SACH activities has been presented in cities around the world, including Abuja (Nigeria), Brussels, Detroit, Glasgow, Hebei (China), Jerusalem, Johannesburg, Melbourne, Miami, Moscow, Philadelphia, Quezon City (Philippines), Singapore, Sydney, Toronto, Vancouver and Washington, DC.