Where the Ice Breaks: Gazan Guide, Israeli Soldier Meet at Hadassah's Hospital

Thursday, Nov 14 2013

"Hadassah is the place where the ice breaks," says Dr. Osnat Levtzion-Korach, Director of Hadassah's hospital on Mount Scopus.

Dr. Levtzion-Korach recalls the story of two 20-year-old patients who were both battling lymphoma. One was a religious Israeli officer in the Israel Defense Forces; the other, an Arab guide from Gaza. They got to know one another in Hadassah's hematology department. The Arab guide, unfortunately, became very ill as he lost his fight against the cancer and decided he wanted to return to Gaza. To do so, however, he needed to go home with an oxygen tent, which is very costly. The social worker in the oncology department at Hadassah approached her synagogue and was quickly able to raise the money for the breathing apparatus.

When it was time for the guide to leave for Gaza, there was concern that the trip home could be complicated and taxing, given the checkpoints. The Israeli officer intervened and said, "Call the soldiers"; as a result, his fellow cancer patient was able to journey home smoothly and quickly. As Dr. Levtzon-Korach explains, "After spending so much time together, in their sorrow and their pain, the two men got to know one another, and when you know, you don't hate."

Other patients who come to mind when Dr. Levtzion-Korach thinks about the power of medicine to build bridges is 3-year-old Jama, who underwent a successful bone marrow transplant at Hadassah, along with receiving a prosthesis for his leg, which he partially lost to an infection; and a nine-year-old girl from Ramallah, who had been a healthy child until she woke up one morning with a headache and vomiting. When Dr. Levtzion-Korach received the call from Ramallah to ask if the girl could be brought to Hadassah, she was already unconscious. Despite the fact that there were no empty beds in Hadassah's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Dr. Levtzion-Korach told the person at the other end of the phone line that it was okay to bring her; they would manage. The girl turned out to have a brain bleed. She was operated on at Hadassah and now, thanks to the expertise of Hadassah's health professionals, she is recovering well.

Not only does Hadassah Medical Organization provide cutting-edge, compassionate care to Palestinian patients, but Hadassah's specialists also collaborate with their colleagues in the Palestinian Authority to upgrade their medical capacities so that these doctors and nurses can care for the Palestinian population at home. The Cystic Fibrosis Center in Gaza is a key example as is Project Rozana. A multi-faceted endeavor, endorsed by the health ministry of the Palestinian Authority, Project Rozana is a collaboration of the Hadassah Australia Foundation, Anglican Overseas Aid, and the Hadassah Medical Center. Its goal is three-fold:

  • To provide pediatric intensive care at Hadassah Hospital to Palestinian children with acute medical needs
  • To train Palestinian doctors from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in pediatric specialties at the Hadassah Medical Center and
  • To train Palestinian psychologists and trauma counselors at Hadassah.

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