Save a Child's Heart exists today because of the vision, passion, and boundless energy of the late Dr. Amram "Ami" Cohen.
An excellent surgeon, an inspiring leader, and a warm and caring person, Ami was the driving force who created Save a Child’s Heart and turned it into an important contributor to children’s health worldwide. In 1988, while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces in Korea, the head of the international organization of Save the Hearts approached Dr. Cohen. The organization was sending orphaned and indigent Korean children to western countries for medical care that was not locally available. Dr. Cohen was so impressed with the concept that he requested and received permission from his superiors to participate in the program.
During the remainder of his time in Korea, he performed 35 pediatric cardiac surgeries. Ami immigrated to Israel from the United States in 1992. He joined the staff of the Wolfson Medical Center and served as the Deputy Chief of Cardiovascular Surgery and Head of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery, under the direction and mentorship of Prof. Arieh Schachner, the then head of the cardio-thoracic department.
Save a Child’s Heart came into being in 1995 when an Ethiopian doctor contacted Dr. Cohen after being referred to him by a mutual friend at the University of Massachusetts. He asked for Dr. Cohen’s help with two children in desperate need of heart surgery. Dr. Cohen received the approval and support of Prof. Schachner to commence with this project and since that time, Save a Child’s Heart has repaired the hearts of more than 4,000 children from 51 developing countries around the world. Ami died in a tragic accident while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in August of 2001. Ami’s passing left a painful void and a deep sense of loss in the hearts of all who knew and worked with him. His life’s project, Save a Child’s Heart, transcends national boundaries and political differences, building bridges of peace and understanding between Israel and the nations of the world. The goals that he lived for are being carried on by the organization he so successfully created. This is a most fitting memorial to his uniquely productive life.
“I am convinced that for the vast majority of people who chose cardio- thoracic surgery as a profession, idealism was initially a strong factor. For those of you who are reading this and just starting out, hold fast to your ‘day after-vision’ because, if it fades, despite all the skills acquired, there will be something missing. For those who are searching, join us and together let us make the network to help children with heart disease globally big enough to be equal to the task. There is work for everybody. There are no dollars and cents in it, but it is worth a fortune.” – Dr. Amram Cohen