Update: A note from Gelfond in the Philippines, November 20, 2013
"I was awakened in my tent today at 5 AM with an emergency Caesarian section. The woman was in dire condition, and we managed to deliver a beautiful baby boy. Mother and child are well."
"We are a light in the darkness of this poor, badly damaged region," said Reuven Gelfond, head operating room nurse at Hadassah Medical Organization on Mount Scopus, speaking on the phone from the typhoon-ravaged Philippines.
Gelfond described a man who asked if the Israeli medical team could get rid of the large obstruction in his eye--even though it wasn't a direct result of the typhoon. He couldn't see, and he heard that the Israelis might help him.
For that, the doctor would need a speculum—not one of the tools that was brought along from Israel. So Gelfond built one.
"...We were able to turn on the light for this patient who couldn't see before the surgery," he said.
Gelfond has a history of mobilizing when disaster strikes. He is a part of the Israeli Defense Forces' medical rescue unit, and when the devastating earthquake rocked Haiti in 2010, Gelfond was there. Now, in seeing the destruction in the Philippines, he joined the first Israeli soldiers to get there, and helped build the tent city hospital where over 1300 patients have already been seen.
"Much of (the surgery) is urgent—everything from C-sections to perforated intestines to fractured hips. But we also bring western medicine to this needy part of the world."
Gelfond was born in Soviet Georgia and trained as a nurse under Hadassah's program for professionals from the former Soviet Union. "We arrived with very high motivation, Israel-style, built the field hospital and started to work. We're also the hospital for the United States military if they need us."
How long will he be staying? "Until the end," says Gelfond. "Until we have finished what we came here to do."