Mia Dekel

In my time as a part-time volunteer at the Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) house I would come by about 2-3 times a week for a few hours of pure happiness.

I got to bear witness to something that felt like magic. As a volunteer, you get to meet the most amazing children and their inspiring mothers that come here to a country that they do not know, with a language that they do not understand, to get treatment that is not available to them in their country of origin. And then, just like a miracle, you get to see those children a few weeks later, happy and going back to their countries to live healthy lives, made possible by Save a Child’s Heart.

Mia, at the Children's Home, with children from Zambia and Ethiopia

Now, as a medical student taking part in the SACH Medical Internship, the magic I witnessed as a volunteer became a reality, and it was even more mesmerizing.  This week I was in the Wolfson Medical Center, watching all the amazing people, doctors and nurses that are working so incredibly hard to help these children - truly going above and beyond. For me, it was like finding the final piece of the puzzle, realizing how many people it takes to save a child’s heart. I got to see cases that I only read about in books, and that probably I will never see again. Like when I was lucky enough to get to observe the catheterization of Ali, a 16-year-old girl, with coarctation of the aorta, and the biggest patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) I have ever seen. I got to see four different children with the same congenital heart defect, but all different: different ages, different countries of origin, and different symptoms. I spent 6 hours in the OR observing an incredibly complex surgery that completely took my breath away. The surgery was being performed on Meseret, a 10-year-old girl from Ethiopia with tetralogy of Fallot - a combination of four heart defects in one. It was just a week before that I spent almost every day with Meseret in the house, and now, just a later, I got to see her recovering during the rotation in the ICU.

Mia at the Wolfson Medical Center

I really do believe this medical internship is so unique, not only for the medical knowledge you acquire, and the incredibly rare cases, but because it is one of the only places that you can walk into the ward, and see 5 children all from different places, speaking different languages, and maybe even with the same congenital heart defect, communicating better than many adults I know. There is something about this organization that truly brings people together, and you will find that with these children, you don’t need words for them to become a piece of your heart. Trust me, It happens before you notice.