SYRIA - Health support – May 31 2017 A successful cardiac surgery for young Syrian girl 10-year-old Hadeel is one of 200 children in Syria who has benefited from SOS Children’s Villages health support project since it began in 2016. The project aims to provide surgery and other specialised care for children with urgent medical needs in a country where the medical profession has been decimated and many hospitals destroyed during the crisis It was mid-morning and the mother of Hadeel* and members of the SOS Children’s Villages health team were anxiously waiting outside the operating theatre of a Damascus hospital. Just then the doctor approached with the news that the surgery was successful. Hadeel’s mother broke out in tears as the doctor explained that the 10-year-old girl would enjoy a full recovery following the surgery to correct a congenital heart defect. The girl is one of 200 children nationwide who have benefited from the SOS Children’s Villages medical referral programme since it began in September 2016. The programme provides surgery and other specialised care for children with urgent medical needs in a country where the medical profession has been decimated and many hospitals destroyed during the six-year war. Hadeel has three brothers and along with their parents, they live in a shelter for internally displaced people near the western city of Homs. “It was during our first visit to the shelter that we met Hadeel`s parents and knew about her need for cardiac surgery”, said Osama Ebraheem, health officer at SOS Children’s Villages Syria. “I realised that her life was in danger, and her case was a top priority for our health programme as we focus on supporting those who need life-saving surgeries.” In February 2017, Hadeel and her mother travelled to Damascus for the surgery. “The first time I saw her, I believed she could recover. Although all the previous medical reports concluded that she had no chance of recovery. I took a decision to go ahead and do the surgery”, said Dr Khaled Hamza, her surgeon. Several weeks after the surgery, the SOS Children’s Villages team visited the family at the shelter outside Homs. At the entrance, team members noticed a girl playing hide-and-seek with her friends. It was Hadeel. “I was unable to hold back my tears when I saw her playing and laughing”, said Sarah, one of the SOS team members. “I am grateful that we contributed in drawing a smile on her beautiful face.” Hadeel’s father offered reassurances about his daughter’s health and laughingly said, “I used to carry her, and now I cannot catch my breath following her.” SOS Children’s Villages medical referral programme is part of the overall emergency response for children and families in Aleppo, Damascus and Tartous. SOS Syria provides child friendly spaces, supports education for children, offers humanitarian relief to vulnerable families, and cares for children who have lost parents or are waiting to re-join their families. *The name was changed to protect the child’s privacy.