Ethiopian Airlines recently brought an ailing Sudanese girl to Toronto’s SickKids Hospital, enabling her to get desperately needed heart surgery.
Limited medical care was available back home for Leen, who had a congenital heart defect. SickKids’ Herbie Fund accepted her as one of 16 international patients last year and her mother Asmaa and Leen needed a host family in Toronto. In Toronto, Salma, a mother of four, came across Asmaa’s plea in a Facebook group for Sudanese immigrants in North America. A little girl and her mother were flying from Sudan to Toronto for lifesaving care at SickKids – and they needed help.
For Salma, there was never any question of what she would do. Her daughter, now eight, was born with a congenital heart defect, and SickKids saved her life. It was time to pay it forward.
The Toronto surgery was a success. After months of fear and anguish and heartbreak, it was all over – Leen was going to be okay and weeks later, she was running around her hospital room, smiling and hurling a balloon into the air. Except for the small pink scar tracing her sternum, you’d never know she’s recovering from open-heart surgery. She’s a happy, healthy little girl.
Asmaa thanked Ethiopian Airlines for her tickets to Toronto, the SickKids surgeons and Herbie Fund donors for helping save Leen’s life.