Speaker encourages peace through international organization

Sara Williams, News Editor

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Photo by Isabel Vayser

Speaking in a warm and mellow voice, Arie Schachner, former cardiothoracic surgeon and current president of the Save a Child’s Heart organization, recounts how he began his internationally recognized non-profit with limited money, intense debt, a lack of Israeli-government support and two children from Ethiopia in desperate need of cardiac surgery.

“[They] came over, we operated on them, and since we didn’t have any money [at the time], no place, no other things, we [nursed] them in our houses, and our staff was nursing them,” Schachner said.

Schachner spoke at Glenbrook North on Feb. 2, 2018 to discuss his role in the Save a Child’s Heart organization. His determination for global peace through medicine led to his organization providing surgeries to children in dangerous or impoverished countries, or in countries lacking sufficient medical resources. Juniors Beatrice and Elise Katsnelson, co-founders of the Save a Child’s Heart club at GBN, invited Schachner after learning he was visiting Chicago. 

The presentation began with an introduction from the Katsnelsons, whose club raises money and spreads awareness for Save a Child’s Heart. They continued with a summary of the Israel-based organization and stated that as of Feb. 2, the organization has saved 4,600 children’s lives.

Throughout his presentation, Schachner explained the purpose of Save a Child’s Heart is to provide life-saving surgeries to children from all over the world who are facing congenital heart defects and living in potentially dangerous situations, regardless of their race, religion or genetics.

“A child is a child,” said Schachner. “And who are these children? They are the future citizens of the world. What’s happening in our world now? Killing, bombing, massacring, chemical weapons, everything else. I am a great believer that hope is much better than hate and that good will prevail and disturb the evil in this world. Compassion is our language, and medicine can be a currency for peace.”

Elise Katsnelson said she believes using medicine as a currency for peace could relate to students who are interested in medicine.

“Everyone wants to ‘help people,’ but in reality, how are we helping people?” said Elise Katsnelson. “There’s another way of using medicine for peace that often gets neglected in our world, and I think [it] can be used as a very, very beneficial tool.”

Junior Sammy Bellman, who attended the presentation, said due to her brother having heart surgery when he was very young, she felt a personal connection to Schachner’s presentation.

According to Beatrice Katsnelson, the best way to support the Save a Child’s Heart organization at GBN is to get involved with the club through its local fundraisers, such as bake sales and car washes.

Schachner and the Katsnelsons also recommended participating in the Save a Child’s Heart organization’s “Buy-a-Brick” fundraising program, which is meant to fund the construction of a new Save a Child’s Heart hospital in Israel. Information about the program is planned to be included on the organization’s website.

“Participants can choose the color and style of brick that they would like to ‘contribute’ to the hospital,” said Elise Katsnelson. “The cost is $1 for an infant, $9 for children and teens and $18 for adults.”

  Schachner concluded his presentation by emphasizing the purpose of Save a Child’s Heart.

“If you save one life, you save the world,” Schachner said.

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