Dr. Hadas Mechoulam, pediatric ophthalmologist at Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO), has made it her mission to retain the sight of premature babies from Nablus.
Premature babies are born with immature blood vessel or retinas. In countries like Israel, they receive early intervention to ensure that this will not affect their vision. Unscreened infants can go on to develop retinal detachment which causes blindness.
A few years ago, Dr. Mechoulam operated on 20 such infants from Nablus at HMO. Now she is working with Palestinian physicians to screen and treat infants with the condition before their vision worsens. She has already taught her Palestinian colleagues how to give simple injections that will help the retina mature, with plans to train these physicians to implement more advanced screening methods and interventions in the future.
Dr. Mechoulam is also arranging a small conference in Jericho with Palestinian neonatologists, ophthalmologists, and nurses, where Israeli neonatal ophthalmologists will share their knowledge about risk factors and treatment of these infants. Also on her “wish list” is to bring a group of blind babies from Gaza to HMO for treatment. “Getting them here,” says Dr. Mechoulam, “is probably the most complicated part.”