Iraqi Kurdish baby heads to Israel for surgery after minister intervenes

An Iraqi baby born with a congenital heart defect will be flown into Israel for life-saving surgery after an emergency appeal to the Interior Ministry just before the Sukkot holiday.

Baby Ahlam, from the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region, suffers from transposition of the great arteries, a fatal syndrome in which the main arteries carrying blood from the heart are reversed.

A spokesperson for Shevet Achim, a Jerusalem-based Christian organisation which regularly facilitates medical treatment for patients in Arab countries seeking care in Israel, said the newborn was to be flown to Israel on Wednesday.

The group had made an emergency appeal to the Interior Ministry for visas for three Kurdish babies suffering from the condition earlier this month.

Just before Sukkot, when the ministry’s offices were closed for the holiday, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri personally intervened and visas for all three were approved. However, one baby had died about the same time the application was first made, and another found help in India while awaiting an answer from Israel.

For almost two decades, Shevet Achim has been arranging for Palestinian, Jordanian, Kurdish and now Syrian children to come to Israel to undergo life-saving heart surgery.

According to the organisation’s website there are currently five Kurdish babies being treated in the country.

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