Children’s Lifeline International.
Many of you will recognize Salah Hassanein from the countless charitable events and organizations he supports in San Diego, but his shy demeanor and humbleness belies his generosity and kind heart.
Salah M. Hassanein was born in Egypt in 1921 where he attended the British School in Alexandria and then the London School of Economics in Cairo. He came to the United States in 1945 and served on the US Armed Forces. His career began as he held various positions within the film industry where he rose in the ranks, at one time coming to serve as the President of Warner Brothers International Theatres.
As his career continued to blossom, Salah found his true calling in philanthropy. In 1982, when Nancy Reagan called on the motion picture industry to assist with heart surgery for two children she brought to the United States, it was Salah who responded. Through this experience was how Children’s Lifeline International came be to be formed.
Children’s Lifeline is a non- profit program where doctors and nurses donate their time and expertise to children whose lives could and would be saved with life-saving surgery. “Children’s Lifeline is the greatest thing that I’ve ever done in my life,” Salah Hassanein tells Giving Back Magazine. In the last 30 years, this program has treated 180,000 children from 50 countries all over the world
In 2013 alone missions have included Ecuador, Gambia India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sierra Leone and many more.
The latest medical mission to Bengaluru, India was extraordinary and particularly historic for Children’s Lifeline because, for the first time, defibrillators and pace makers were implanted in some of the children. That medical team included the San Diego doctors from UCSD Cardiovascular Center who are pictured on the cover of this month’s issue: Dr. Ulrika Birgersdotter-Green, Dr. Greg Feld, Dr. G. Victor Pretorius, Dave Robberson, CVT and the visiting Cardiac Surgeon from India, Dr. G. Chandrashekar.
Also this year, this program became the first American Doctors to perform open heart surgery on children in Cambodia. Every child who was operated on was denied surgery by another hospital, organization or medical team because each child was deemed too high risk; this team led by Dr. Grossfeld and his wife, Susan, mission coordinator, was their last hope. All of the surgeries were successful and to quote Dr. Grossfeld, “…each child was discharged to hopefully lead a normal life.”
Salah continues to rally support and inspire others to become involved. This spring a gala “What a Wonderful World” chaired by Mrs. John H. (Phyllis) Parrish will be held in honor of the work and contributions Salah Hassanein has made in the community. We hope you will join us.