A Month-Old Yemen Baby With Heart Defect Saved By Team Of Brave SA Medics


Born with a heart defect in Yemen, a country in the grip of its most severe crisis in years, dark cloud surrounded his life as no medical care unit was forth coming with needed help or surgery.

Baby Yazan Yousif Qade was going through a life-threatening congenital coarctation of the aorta, which is the narrowing of the large blood vessel branching from the heart.

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The 29-day old baby had no choice than to hold tight to life and fight on. Gladly, a twist of fate brought a team of brave South African surgeons who brought back life to the helpless baby.

Meanwhile, before his rescue, Yazan was evidently denied help by two local companies in the country, but Yazan’s rays of survival was clearly seen after the South African medics showed willingness to dive into a war zone and fly him out. This was made possible after Netcare 911 and its medical aviation partner, Medair, felt compelled to help.

Speaking on why the NGO – Medair risked undertaking the rescue mission to Yemen, the organization’s chief executive Bruce Johnstone said:

“When we were approached by Alliance International Medical Services to take on this medical evacuation, we were told that our counterparts in other countries, including the United Arab Emirates and Europe, were unwilling to undertake this highly complex mission.”

Medair an international non-governmental organization NGO of humanitarian aid with a stated mission, “to relieve suffering in some of the world’s most remote and devastated places.”

On the other hand, Medair’s medical partner Netcare 911 chief operating officer, Craig Grindell, said the mission required “meticulous planning and logistical support at every level”.

And that AIMS South Africa decided that Netcare Sunninghill Hospital was the appropriate facility to provide the highly-specialised cardiac care. The team had to set the ball rolling by obtaining permission from Saudi military to have access to Yemeni airspace.

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However, with the help of the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, this progress took the team more than a week.

Thereafter, the flight crew flew to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia and hanged on for the approval from authorities.

Netcare 911 paramedic Kenneth O’Connor simply described the operation that surrounded Yazan’s rescue as a complicated one.

“It was quite a complicated operation,” said O’Connor.

Having stayed for a week in Ethiopia, clearance was granted. The team landed in Saudi military base in their Hawker 800 and headed to Yemen for baby Yazan.

After twenty hours, baby Yazan landed at privately owned Lanseria International Airport in South Africa on Friday February 12 at 5am.

Thereafter, Yazan was successfully operated upon by cardio-thoracic surgeons Dr Hendrik Mamorare, Dr Izak de Villiers Jonker and pediatric cardiologist Dr Raymond Dansky.

Presently, Yazan has returned home and his family also received tremendous support from their embassy and the South African Department of International Relations and Co-operation.

Net 911’s Grindell described the teamwork between Aims, Medair, the South African Department of International Relations and Co-operation, Yemen embassy, Netcare Sunninghill Hospital and Netcare 911 was “nothing short of inspirational”.

“It is heart-warming that we were all able to work together under the most difficult of circumstances to save the life of a little human being from a faraway, war-ravaged country, ” he said.

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