Although based in Israel, the nonprofit Save a Child’s Heart, which has saved the lives of more than 6,000 children with heart disease, has attracted supporters and leaders from the Washington area.
Vivian Bass, the former CEO of the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes, will become president of Save a Child’s Heart in January 2023. Philip Margolius who, like his late wife, Phyllis, is a former president of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, and the United Jewish Endowment Fund, is chairman of the Save a Child’s Heart Endowment Fund Committee.
Margolius recently gave the seed money to create an endowment fund for the organization in memory of his daughter, Jennifer, who passed away almost two years ago and had been a Save a Child’s Heart board member.
“Jennifer was so proud of the work the organization did and her role in it,” said Margolius. “Establishing this endowment fund will enable the organization to continue its life-saving work even beyond this group of board members and leaders for decades to come.”
The organization is holding a gala fundraiser on Nov. 10 at the Woodmont Country Club and is on track to exceed its endowment fund goal of $1 million. “The more we have in the endowment, the more lives we can save,” says Margolius.
The global COVID-19 pandemic didn’t slow down Save a Child’s Heart. Many of the children in 60 countries saved by the organization’s surgeons come from developing countries with few or no surgeons who know how to do pediatric cardiac procedures.
During the years of the pandemic, Save a Child’s Heart continued its work:
• Many physicians from around the world were able to continue to learn and improve their surgical skills in Israel.
• While Israel’s COVID-19 rules kept children outside Israel from traveling to the country for many months, the organization increased the number of Palestinian children from Gaza and the West Bank who received life-saving operations.
• Doctors at an Israeli field hospital established in Ukraine just after Russia attacked that country last winter identified a little girl in critical need of sUrgery who was flown to Israel for a successful operation.
The organization also recently opened a seven-floor pediatric cardiology surgery and training center at the new Sylvan Adams Hospital in Holon, Israel. The construction of the hospital was paid for by Save a Child’s Heart donors.
“Our goal with the new hospital is to double the number of children we help within 10 years and train more doctors to do surgeries in developing countries,” says the organization’s executive director, David Litwack.
Save a Child’s Heart, based in Israel with executive offices in Silver Spring and donor groups around the world, was founded by Ami Cohen, a thoracic surgeon who grew up in the Washington area and attended the Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington (now the Berman Hebrew Academy) and the Yeshiva of Greater Washington.
These days, save a Child’s Heart’s work extends beyond the hearts it heals. Many students on Birthright trips to Israel have volunteered at the organization’s children’s home, where patients recover, and have gone on to establish more than 100 Save a Child’s Heart fundraising chapters on college campuses.
Litwack says they use the organization’s work to show how Israel helps the world. “They get much of that passion from speaking to our Israel staff during their volunteer time,” says Litwack. The medical volunteers see their work as holy and say they are fulfilling the Jewish peoples’ mission to be a light among the nations.”