On August 15, 2011, doctors, volunteers and supporters of Israel-based humanitarian organization Save a Child’s Heart reached the summit of Africa’s highest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro, in an effort to raise $1 million which will save the lives of 100 African children in desperate need of heart surgery.

 Climbing new heights to save hearts

 

Dr. Tamir examines Moses (Photos courtesy Save a Child's Heart)

On August 15, 2011, doctors, volunteers and supporters of Israel-based humanitarian organization Save a Child’s Heart reached the summit of Africa’s highest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro, in an effort to raise $1 million which will save the lives of 100 African children in desperate need of heart surgery.

The twelve climbers, from the United States, Canada, Israel, Ethiopia, and South Africa reached the peak of 5,895 meters (19, 345 feet) after six days of hiking through rainforest, moorland, semi-desert, alpine desert and arctic terrain.

 Climbing new heights to save hearts

"The climbers arrived from different countries, speak different languages and are various ages, but they all share the same goal: to save the lives of children in Africa," says Emma Hacohen, Project Coordinator of Climb Your Heart Out: Mount Kilimanjaro 2011.

"I have never felt more empowered," says Simon Fisher, Executive Director of Save a Child’s Heart. "Watching the Save a Child’s Heart medical team perform the first ever pediatric open heart surgery in Mwanza Tanzania and then climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro with the full awareness that this is going to lead to 100 more children’s lives being saved – I guess you could say nothing has ever felt this important."

Prior to the climb, 13 pediatric heart surgeries were performed in Mwanza Tanzania by the Save a Child’s Heart medical team, as well as the first ever pediatric open heart surgery. Approximately 300 children were examined by the SACH doctors. Those children who need heart surgery but did not receive it during the mission will be flown to Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, Israel with all expenses paid by Save a Child’s Heart. 

 Climbing new heights to save hearts

Each climber committed to raising a minimum of $10,000, the cost of saving the life of one child. The rest of the funds are being raised through generous donations made by supporters of Save a Child’s Heart.

"It was a humbling and exhilarating experience," says Emma Hacohen. "At the bottom of the mountain it seemed insurmountable, but taking it one day at a time, slowly, carefully, I sensed we were conquering it. I guess it’s quite similar to what we are doing at Save a Child’s Heart. Saving children with heart disease in Africa also seems insurmountable. But one heart at a time we are making a difference."

About Save a Child’s Heart: Save a Child’s Heart is an Israel based international humanitarian project providing life-saving heart surgery and follow-up care for children from developing countries, including Africa, Iraq, the West Bank and Gaza. Last month Save a Child’s Heart received UN special status on the ECOSOC committee and it is now an official UN NGO.

Since its inception in 1996, the Save a Child’s Heart medical team treated over 2,700 children from 42 countries and has examined and evaluated more than 6,000 children.