Hanna, who is known in her family as the princess of the house, is a six-year-old from the Oromia region, in Ethiopia.
Hanna arrived in Israel in the summer of 2020 for repair of her heart condition, ventricular septal defect (VSD).
A ventricular septal defect - also known as “a hole in the heart” - is a type of congenital heart defect in which there is an opening in the ventricular septum, the wall dividing the left and right ventricles of the heart. The hole increases the amount of blood that flows through the lungs, causing damage to the heart and lungs.
Born pre-term, it immediately appeared to Hanna’s mother, Masarat, that something was wrong with her first and only child. Earlier screenings in their regional hospital identified a heart condition, but Masarat was advised that the ‘hole’ in her daughter’s heart might close on its own. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case for Hanna, or Hanni, as her mother calls her. As she grew, Hanna continued to battle with breathlessness and weakness on an ongoing basis.
Hanna is a curious child who loves to draw and write, but though top of her class, Hanna had to stop attending school because she couldn’t manage the walk there and fell asleep at her desk, suffering from extreme exhaustion due to her heart condition. Masarat, who is a single mother, prayed for her daughter’s wellbeing every day.
After two years of follow ups, hope came when Hanna’s case was finally referred to the Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa. There, Masarat met Dr. Etsegenet Gedlu, a former SACH-trainee and partner cardiologist. It was clear to Dr. Gedlu that Hanna would need an intervention to survive and that it was unavailable in Ethiopia. She referred Hanna’s case to SACH.
But then came COVID-19. “Through COVID I was scared we would not reach Israel,” her mother said, “but I continued to pray.” Dr. Gedlu assured her that as soon as they had the chance, they would fly.
“Through COVID I was scared we would not reach Israel but I continued to pray.”
On June 1, amidst the COVID pandemic, Hanna and her mother arrived in Israel, with four other children, three mothers and a group nurse. After undergoing initial examinations for COVID which came back negative, the mother and daughter quarantined for 12 days, before entering the hospital.
On June 15, 2020 Hanna underwent a diagnostic catheterization at Wolfson Medical Center, followed by surgical intervention on June 16, 2020 during which her VSD was repaired. Hanna celebrated her sixth birthday at the SACH Children's Home on July 18, 2020.
“I am so hopeful now. I’ve been waiting for this chance for my child. I’ve seen other children who have been healed and now we are here to heal her. This was my prayer.”