Nurse Libbie’s Blog, Chapter Three: For You Have Returned My Life to Me

Wednesday, Mar 1 2017

Picture from left to right: Irene Sudri, Naava Braverman, Yael Dror, Jamilla Elquoasmi, Ilana Weismark, and Doctor David Mankuta.

Every morning when I awake, I put my two feet on the ground and gratefully thank the almighty for returning my soul to me. This is the start for each and every day.

Having been through a life-threatening disease has taught me to appreciate every day and not take any moment for granted. On my job as a hospital nurse I am reminded of this important insight daily and realize how fragile life really is. Even in the happiest of places, such as the maternity ward where I work, seeing mothers and babies being discharged healthy after birth is something one can never take for granted--birth is a true miracle. Miracles we see time after time, day after day.

During my third year in the Henrietta Szold Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Nursing, my good friend, Ilana Weismark, living at the time in Israel, was expecting her first child. When the time had come, she made her way to the delivery room at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem. Full of excitement expecting to hold her newborn in a matter of a few hours, Ilana could not imagine what was about to happen. During her hours of labor, an amniotic fluid embolism--a rare (1 in 30,000 women), life- threatening childbirth emergency--had occurred. A team of gynecologists, midwives, and the emergency resuscitation crew worked tirelessly to save Ilana’s life and by extraordinary efforts to save her womb too.

Hours of operating and countless portions of blood are the memories the team will never forget from that day. Ilana’s life was saved the same day baby Kinneret entered the world. All who were there that day felt an extra hand from heaven was helping them. Though Ilana was at this point stable, and out of the operating theater, no one could foresee what implications this trauma would have in the future for this young mother’s life. After four days in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit), Ilana awoke to the news and reality that she was now a mother. Slowly, but surely, Ilana made her way through recovery, regaining her memory, and returning to full activity. It was an incredible one-in-a- million miracle!

Eleven years had gone by. Ilana, now an American citizen and mother of three, contacted me with a special request. She was planning a trip to Israel and would love to meet the team who had saved her life and that of baby Kinneret. I sprang into action and, with the help of my colleagues in Hadassah, I set up a series of emotional meetings in the place where Ilana’s miracle happened. It was a very special day which Ilana summed up with the following words:

“There were many tears and warm hugs when I met the midwife who sounded the alarm when she understood my life was at risk (Jamilla); the head midwife at the time who was the only French speaker who could call my parents in France and calmly explain that my life was in serious danger and they needed to come immediately to be with me (Irene); and the head nurse of the resuscitation department who shared the anguish of working on resuscitating me for seven hours in the operating room (Yael). Present also was the head of gynecology, who stepped in as a team leader, orchestrating all the specialists who worked tirelessly on saving my life (Dr. David Mankuta), and also Prof. Neri Laufer (the department head), who managed to save my womb for future pregnancies. I also got a chance to hug Shlomit, who brought me the baby after I had spent four days in the ICU. There was Sarah, the nurse who ensured Kinneret was well taken care of while her Abba (Dad) was at my side too. There were many more people involved, but some were abroad or out of town. It was a moment of complete awe at the miracles we sometimes are part of or witness. Everyone shared this traumatic event from his or her own lens. Each and every one of these people played a special part and impacted my full recovery.”

Meeting Ilana again, now the energetic healthy woman that she is, and reliving her story with her was a special experience treasured by all who met her in Hadassah that sunny day. It was a reminder to us of our mission to touch lives and, with the help of G-d, to perform daily miracles; it was yet another reminder that we must give thanks every day and take nothing for granted.

*based on Modeh Ani, the daily prayer recited by Jews upon rising since time immemorial


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