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TURNING ILLNESS INTO ACTION: JOEY SASSON’S SAVE THE BEAT FOUNDATION

By: Dave Gordon



“Sadness, depression, and devastation” – that’s what Joey Sasson’s parents felt when the doctors told them that their
two-month-old son was ill. Joey’s tiny heart was beating abnormally quickly – about three times faster than it should.

Joey was diagnosed with SupraVentricular Tachycardia (SVT), a condition where the heart’s electrical impulses do not respond properly. Because of this, the heart beats so fast that its muscles cannot relax between contractions. Joey’s heart, thumping at
245 beats a minute, couldn’t pump blood adequately. Over time, his organs could be starved of oxygen
and blood.

Still, the Sassons summoned their faith, hoping Hashem, in combination with modern medicine, could cure the problem.

SVT isn’t acquired from a virus, bacteria, or stress; in fact, it’s not acquired at all. In the United States alone, about 89,000 new cases of SVT crop up each year. Currently, more than a half million people suffer from this disease.

By the time Joey was three years old, he had already spent more than a month at the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where doctors worked around the clock to regulate his heart. Unfortunately, his heart was deemed too small to receive a particular procedure that would
mitigate the condition.

In his daily life, Joey required four kinds of medications, taken about six times a day – not thrilling for a three-year-oldwith
pill-swallowing problems. Despite it all, his parents instilled in him the belief he was a normal child, one who just happened to miss school now and again for medical checkups.

It would be two more years before he was able to receive a
life-changing procedure called a catheter ablation. During this surgery, thin, flexible catheters are threaded through a vein and into the heart. The catheters work to selectively cut off areas of the heart that are causing issues. Usually, this procedure puts a stop to SVT, but Joey had been on the operating table for three hours with no success. A second operation was necessary.

“Despite the failure, optimism was my only source of faith,” a teenage Joey recalls now. At age six, the procedure was repeated, making a true difference.

“This began a new era in my life,” Joey noted. “An era of happiness, joy, and primarily, health. I was finally cured from this toxic nightmare. I have been allowed to grow as an individual and come to be thankful for all that I have.” 

Although Joey appears to have a healthy attitude about his illness, he wasn’t open about his condition until recently. “I recently realized that I am not alone. There are many other children suffering from this same condition. Children that do not have the same motivation, strength, and help from their communities and family members that I did,” he noted. “I cannot waste another minute knowing there are other children suffering that need help.”

Thus the inspiration for SaveTheBeat, a charity created by Joey, for children with SVT whose families cannot afford to pay for certain procedures or medications including, catheter ablations, echocardiograms, and electrocardiograms. Also on the funding list are treatment medications such as beta-blockers, adenosine, Verapamill, and calcium channel blockers – a necessary part of coping with the issue, and maintaining good health.

Already Sasson, now seventeen, has amassed a team of two dozen volunteers to plan various fundraisers for the nonprofit organization, including five sports tournaments, a bake sale, and a gala, held last August, which attracted some 200 attendees. Together, they have raised more than $30,000 for this disease.

Soon a line of apparel will be available to purchase, with proceeds going to Joey’s one-of-a-kind charity for SVT. 

Through their efforts, Joey and his volunteers aim to raise money for important procedures and medications in the treatment of SVT. Still another goal of theirs is to target the intangibles and help parents and children understand they’re not alone in this. Whether that means sending small gifts to patients, communicating with parents and children, or helping them cope better, Sasson is “here to make a positive change and a lasting impact on children’s lives and futures.”

“I’ve always had this desire to give back after what Hashem did for me and to live life to the fullest. I felt that it was more of an obligation than a desire to build the organization. It was something that I needed to do, rather than something I wanted to do,” he says.

We commend Joey for his wise perspective and for channeling his experience with SVT into  an effort that could potentially save the lives of the people suffering from it. May Hashem bless this foundation, and Joey himself, with much success going forward.

For more information, or to make a donation, visit Savethebeat.org