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Israeli Doctors Perform Lifesaving, Open-Heart Surgery on Iraqi Christian Toddler Who Fled ISIS

( [email protected] ) Mar 30, 2015 02:39 PM EDT

ISIS Terror
Thousands of Iraqi Christian and Yazidi children, like the two pictured here, were forced to flee their homes after the Islamic State terrorist group invaded. (Photo credit: AFP/SAFIN HAMED)

An 18th month Iraqi Christian girl whose family was forced to flee their home after the Islamic State attacked recently underwent a lifesaving operation at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem.

Last week, a team of Israeli surgeons operated for several hours on young Maryam Mansour, who was born with a rare and complicated heart defect, Israel Hayom reported.

"Maryam arrived with an extremely complicated diagnosis," said Professor Eldad Erez, head of the hospital's Congenital Heart Surgery Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, who conducted the procedure. "In considering her future, we decided to fix her heart so it would work like a normal one. The operation took nearly eight hours and was very complicated, since the two main arteries both went out of the right side, rather than one from each ventricle, and we had to create a pathway within the heart that would connect the left side of the heart to the main artery."

"Along the way, we even disconnected and reconnected a valve, and changed the location of the main arteries leading from the heart. All this while the heart was on the opposite side of the chest," he added.

Last year, Maryam's family was among the thousands forced to flee their homes after ISIS invaded, giving all believers an ultimatum: convert to Islam or die. While an estimated 2 million Christians called Iraq home in the 1990s, church leaders say that figure plunged to around 200,000 by last year.

After her family arrived at a refugee camp in northern Iraq, Maryam was flown to Hadassah by the Shevet Achim organization, which works to secure treatment in Israel for children throughout the Middle East born with cardiac problems.

"This was a situation in which the heart problem was complicated and included the heart being located on the right side [of the body], a large hole between the ventricles, and other issues," said Professor Azaria Rein, head of the Department of Pediatric Cardiology. "After we conducted catheterization to assess the blood pressure in her heart, it was decided that Maryam was indeed operable."

In the meantime, Maryam's mother, Lina told the AFP she was thankful her daughter's life was saved, but it eager to return to her family. "I'm a little stressed because my daughter is hooked up to all sorts of machines, but the doctors told me she's all right," she said. "I really miss my other children and my husband, who are in Iraq, but it's important to me that the little one gets better. As long as that happens, I'm happy."