Gaza three-year-old treated in London now has hope for future
"There's a hope for Hala now," Emma Scanlon, CEO of a charity who rescued a three-year-old girl from Gaza and brought her to London for life-saving heart surgery, told Good Morning Britain.
Hala al Massri was born with a hole in her heart. Her condition is treatable, but in Gaza there is no facility to operate.
She was earmarked to have surgery through the Chain of Hope charity, which helps children with cardiac diseases access treatment; however the recent conflict meant this was put on hold and the charity didn't think they could get her out.
But Hala was running out of time - her condition was deteriorating, then her home was destroyed by an Israeli shell and she lost all of her life-saving oxygen.
It took the combined efforts of Chain of Hope, the Red Cross, the UK Government, and The Sun newspaper - who calls Hala the "Angel of Gaza" - and a gruelling three-day journey, but against the odds, she has arrived safely at the Royal Brompton Hospital.
"She had this incredible three day journey out of Gaza, across the border, into Jordan, and then on to London," Sharon Hendry, The Sun journalist who led the campaign for Hala's rescue, said.
"On the flight to London the doctor that was travelling with her from the Red Cross lost her pulse. So it was touch and go."
Chain of Hope estimates that as many as 15 million children die or remain severely ill every year through treatable or preventable cardiac conditions.
They either bring children to Europe for operations, or take volunteer medical teams into developing countries to treat children and try to help develop local cardiac services.
There are other children in Gaza awaiting operations, but Chain of Hope are having to review their plan to send a medical team out in October.
For Hala, surgeons are stabilising and examining her this morning. It is "so far, so good," Ms Scanlon said.