Each of the four partners performed parallel research, so that the consortium was able to create a comprehensive data base for the Mediterranean region of the multitude of medicinal effects of bio-diverse regional plants. Using established protocols, as well as their own screening assays, the partners performed scientific research that both verified local folklore and identified plants that were previously unknown to have medicinal effects.
The link between plants and medicine, Prof. Fridlender relates, goes back to Biblical times. In fact, he quotes the prophet, Eziekel, in describing the trees of the region: “Their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.”
Why would plants have these properties? Prof. Fridlender explains that plants need a way to defend themselves against natural elements and harmful external forces. He reports that 25 percent of the drugs today were derived from plants and 70 percent of the promising anti-cancer drugs come from plants of the tropical rain forests. Prof. Fridlender notes also that his Bio-Xplore project can be viewed as a first stage in the development of an anti-cancer drug.
The grant from the European Commission marks the first time that a college in Israel was awarded such a significant grant. The vision for this international consortium, however, was broader than to identify medicinal plants. The goal was to employ science as a vehicle to create communication and trust among the four participating international partners and to contribute to regional economic development and well being. The representatives met through Skype and conference calls, as well as at face-to-face meetings, which enabled them to establish a strong, integrated team. Their final meeting is scheduled for this fall.
The next steps for Prof. Fridlender are to approach the Ministry of Agriculture for a grant to explore further the anti-bacteria properties of the plants they examined during this project. There is a great need to develop new antibiotics, he explains, since bacteria often become resistant to the current ones. In addition, he hopes to establish relationships with local industry to enhance the commercial potential of the consortium’s research.See more photos
Within a 24-hour period, the Iron Dome shot down rockets in the area close to Hadassah's hospital in Ein Kerem, and new terror victims and one suspected terrorist were taken to HMO for treatment.
When a 10-month-old boy was injured after Palestinians threw rockets from a light rail train, Magen David Adom, the national emergency service, transported the boy to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital.Read in The Jerusalem Post: Hospitals Must Treat Terrorists, Too
A 20-year-old Arab resident of Jerusalem's Shuafat neighborhood was wounded on Saturday in an exchange of fire with Israeli security forces as he was apprehended on suspicion he had earlier fired shots from Shuafat, a Palestinian neighborhood of East Jerusalem, toward the Pisgat Ze'ev neighborhood. He, too, was taken to Hadassah in Ein Kerem.
On Saturday night, young couple Yedaya and Hadassah Sharchaton were driving home to Yatir, south of Hebron, from visiting their families in Jerusalem with their year-old daughter Nitzan.
Terrorists threw heavy rocks, smashing the windshield, hitting Yedaya in the face and seriously injuring him. The car flipped over into a ditch on the side of the road. The family was brought to Hadassah in Ein Kerem, where baby Nitzan was kept for observation and Yedaya is currently being treated in the Intensive Care Unit.
This evening, sirens rang in the area around Hadassah in Ein Kerem as a rocket barrage came from Gaza; the Iron Dome system shot down the rockets.
As you know, we are living with constant rocket terror with no clear end in sight to the current crisis. At the same time, as we hold back using our full military strength, we face constant censure in world media.
We in Jerusalem have had a handful of rocket attacks, but we cannot compare our suffering to our brethren in the South. Watching TV last night, I heard the grim description of the situation from the head of security on Gaza-border kibbutz Nachal Oz. I met him last week when he came to visit his family, taking refuge at Hadassah-Neurim, like most of the kibbutzniks and all of their children. They are guests of HWZOA, and they thank you for the days away from the rocket fire.
Remember: we set up Hadassah-Neurim when children were being evacuated from the bombings of the War of Independence. Sometimes I feel that this has been one long struggle for our right to exist. But then I remember: look what we have accomplished over this time! What a State to be proud of! Building this magnificent state has been the result of our unique partnership, between Jews in Israel and Zionists abroad. From generation to generation. I marked my mother’s yahrzeit this week—five years—and in addition to saying kaddish and visiting her grave—I visited her recognitions at Hadassah Hospital.
I had a chance this week to interview Dr. Yuval Meroz, an anesthesiologist who works on the Ein Kerem campus. We met at one of the hospital coffee bars. He was just coming out of the operating room after handling the anesthesia for a gynecological surgery. A hospital doctor in scrubs.
But in his other life, Dr. Meroz is a lieutenant colonel in the Israeli Air Force. Throughout the ground invasion of Operation Protective Edge, he served as an emergency physician at the front. He readied for action at an air force base near Gaza. As soon as an IDF soldier was injured and needed evacuation, Dr. Meroz was flown to the border.
As mortars were aimed at his craft, he helped lift the patients into the chopper. "It's very crowded and very noisy," he said, shrugging off the danger. “It’s too noisy to consult with anyone else.” No photos, he warns. His team never appears in public. The hardest of the hardest part? "Making the decisions.. making quick decisions in the air, when a soldier has no pulse and stops breathing, and you have to act fast and with all the experience you bring to it. You need plasma, you need to intubate, you need a transfusion, and you need to get to a medical center fast.”
Dr. Meroz, (whose photo I can’t send you—but you can meet next time you are in Jerusalem) is Jerusalem-born and served not in the Air Force but in the tank corps before he became a doctor. He chose anesthesia as a specialty because he finds the variety of procedures he performs and the research both challenging and interesting.
When he lands with his patients, he hands them off to the waiting emergency staff. Often he knows the doctors on the ground. Sometimes they are his colleagues at Hadassah.
Then he goes back to pick up the next soldier, and the one after that.
The doctors at the hospitals call him afterwards to let him know how his patients are doing. "I remember them all," he says. "I remember every flight. It's still with me here and it will be with me forever."
Below Ground: Hadassah Psychiatrist
In the meantime, on the ground and below ground is our Dr. Fortunato (Fortu) Ben-Harosh, a specialist in child and adolescent psychiatry. Last week he was in an underground shelter in a moshav, a rural farming community in the South.
The moshav isn't exactly on the border, so it doesn't have new re- enforced safe rooms and play rooms. Still, 10, fifteen, twenty times a day the farmers and their families have to run to one of the public shelters scattered around the grounds.
“I got a call,” said Dr. Ben-Harosh, “The attacks were bad. The families were refusing to leave—grandparents, parents, children. And inside the shelter hysteria was contagious. Crying, laughing, screaming. The village social worker wanted to help but she felt powerless to cope.”
Dr. Ben-Harosh drove down from Jerusalem. He had to stop several times to lie down next to his car when he heard the rocket alarms.
Dr. Ben-Harosh heads Hadassah's Orion Post-Trauma Center for Children. He has experience and an intuitive sense about how to diffuse a crisis. He and his staff have served as back-up for these beleaguered communities since the beginning of Protective Edge.
"I don't come to give therapy. My first job is to empower the local staff, and to brainstorm with them to find additional resources for help."
There were several shelters in the farming community. In the first, Dr. Ben-Harosh led the group through exercises of psycho-education, recognizingthe signs of anxiety and stress and learning to deal with them through breathing and relaxation exercises and guided imagery. He met alone with parents to help them deal with the children. He led a "group discussion," actually a form of therapy.
"By the time we got to the second shelter, I told the social worker that she would do what I had done, and I would just come along to help if necessary. At first she was reluctant. But I encouraged her and she did great. By the third shelter, she could do it by herself.”
One of the issues is separating general anxiety—some of which can be dealt within group therapy and though play—with more serious issues that indeed need one-on-one counseling, he says. "Together, we learned to cooperate with the social workers of the local council, and to call in some of the school psychologists. We are building teams that will help through crises."
Dr. Ben-Harosh and his team will continue training and empowering local mental-health care givers in coming months.
Dr. Ben- Harosh was born in Morocco and grew up in Spain. He made Aliyah and studied medicine here, taking on his role as a psychiatrist/trauma expert just in time for the second intifada. His wife Hagit Benaroush is an instructor in Hadassah's nursing school.
Their own son was serving in a combat unit across the border in Gaza. "I had my own level of anxiety about him," said Dr. Ben-Harosh. "That's part of our complex lives here. Thankfully, he wasn't injured."
I wanted to give you a taste of our Hadassah family at this moment in the history of our people. I know you feel the same family pride I do.
We have two special commands in this week’s Torah portion Re’eh: to share our money with the needy and to rejoice. Isn’t that the Hadassah way? Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom from my home in Jerusalem to yours, And from my colleagues at the Hadassah Offices in Israel, Exec. Director Audrey Shimron, (whose son is in the IDF combat engineers who dismantled the attack tunnels) and Dep. Director Barbara Goldstein, (whose grandson is in the IDF combat engineers who dismantled the attack tunnels.)
Whether it is offering Palestinian medical residents a specialty fellowship at the Hadassah Medical Organization or helping to set up a Cystic Fibrosis Center in Gaza, Hadassah’s health professionals are continually reaching out to improve medical care for their Palestinian neighbors.
Initiated on a foundation of humanitarianism, respect, trust, and bilateral sharing, Israeli-Palestinian collaboration is “stronger today than ever,” the Hadassah Medical Organization reports. Cooperating with hospitals such as Al-Makassed, Augusta Victoria, St. John Eye, and Red Crescent, Hadassah continues to provide sophisticated tertiary medical care to Palestinians from the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.
As Dr. Hani Abdeen, the Palestinian Authority’s Minister of Health, reported during his May 2013 visit to the Hadassah Medical Organization, he would like to further the cooperation between Hadassah and the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Health.
At any given moment, there are about 60 Palestinian physicians doing their residency at Hadassah or training in various medical subspecialties, including cardiology, dermatology, nephrology, hemato-oncology, ophthalmology, orthopedics, pediatrics, surgery, pathology, and urology. The makeup of the residents is usually decided based on the interests of the doctors applying, the need for particular medical specialties within the Palestinian population, as well as the current demands for residents and fellows in the various medical departments at Hadassah.
Once funding is secured for the training, Hadassah begins reviewing applications that it receives from Palestinian physicians interested in pursuing advanced training at the hospital. When a physician is accepted into a specific program, Hadassah helps him or her to obtain all the necessary approvals, including the required license from the Medical Professional Licensing Division of the Israel Ministry of Health and security clearance to enter Jerusalem on a regular basis.
The training program lasts from two and a half to six years, depending on the field of specialty as well as whether the physician is doing a fellowship or a residency. While residents or fellows, the Palestinian physicians are an integral part of the professional team. They are salaried staff members and, together with their Israeli colleagues, treat all patients that come to Hadassah for medical care.
As they quickly gain the tools to bring the highest level of care to patients in their own communities, the Palestinian physicians also begin to integrate into their home health-care system. In this way, they make a major contribution to the advancement of medicine in the West Bank and Gaza. This includes the development of medical specialties that were previously not available, such as anesthesiology, dermatology, ear-nose-and throat (ENT), endocrinology, gynecology, hematology, neurosurgery, and radiology. One physician who specialized in neurosurgery at Hadassah went on to head the Neurosurgery Department at Beit Jala Hospital; another physician who specialized in neurology is one of the most prominent physicians in the West Bank in his field; the Director of the Hebron Hospital specialized in gynecology at Hadassah; and two neurosurgeons are presently working in other West Bank medical centers. In addition, the head of Dermatological Medicine in the Palestinian Authority, who is also Chair of the Palestinian Society for Dermatology, is doing a two-year special fellowship at Hadassah, which brings him to Jerusalem from Ramallah two days each week.
By the same token, a Palestinian pediatric cardiology resident in his last year at Hadassah has already opened his own clinic in Ramallah. Three days a week he sees patients in his clinic and, for the rest of the week, he continues to train at Hadassah.
Not too long ago, he examined a critically ill infant and concluded that her only chance for survival was to be taken to Hadassah. He immediately presented the case to his colleagues at Hadassah and everyone together decided, without hesitation, that the baby should be brought to Hadassah. A bed was made available in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and arrangements quickly set into place to get the baby and her father through the check-point into Jerusalem. The baby underwent an ultrasound examination to see if she could undergo catheterization. When it was determined she could, a catheterization procedure was carried out right away. In the near future, that Palestinian cardiologist should be able to provide this type of treatment in his own clinic. This is Hadassah’s ultimate goal: sharing expertise so that Palestinian health professionals can replicate the advanced, specialized care available at Hadassah.
The Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Center in Gaza is a prime example. Previously, Hadassah’s Cystic Fibrosis Center treated dozens of young patients from Gaza. When politics prevented these patients from coming to Israel, some traveled to Cairo to undergo treatments there; however, it was a 12-hour trip that soon became too difficult and, ultimately, impossible. The parents of these chronically sick children turned to the international community for help in establishing a CF Center in Gaza. With Hadassah’s collaboration, a one-year comprehensive training program was launched for three Palestinian physicians, along with practical training for a nurse, a nutritionist, and a physiotherapist. Read about the creation of the Cystic Fibrosis Center in Gaza.
Whatever the specific medical collaboration, Palestinian residents and fellows have formed warm relationships with their Israeli colleagues and often return after their training to participate in department meetings, present problematic patients, have the opportunity to hear what is going on in the department and, most important, keep abreast of new developments in their field of expertise. Hadassah’s philosophy is that there are no borders when it comes to treating patients; rather, there are bridges to peace.
Adi Hudja Peretz, who almost lost her life in a terror attack 13 years ago, has delivered a healthy baby boy at Hadassah's Hospital in Ein Kerem.
Adi had been brought to Hadassah, close to death, following the January 2001 terrorist attack on Ben Yehudah Street. Prof. Avi Rivkind, head of Hadassah’s Trauma Unit, and Prof. Rami Mosheyoff, head of Orthopedic Trauma, saved her life; Prof. Iri Liebergall, head of Orthopedics, saved her leg. Adi endured numerous operations, as well as countless exhausting and painful rehabilitation regimens, but at Hadassah’s Centennial Convention in Jerusalem in 2012, she walked gracefully across the stage, wearing high-heeled shoes.
UPDATE: Sunday morning, Miri and Meir Schwartz, Chen’s parents, were looking cheerful. "We had a wonderful Shabbat," said Miri. "Chen recognized us!"
Prof. Ahmed Eid, head of the Department of General Surgery at Hadassah Hospital-Mount Scopus, performed life-saving surgery on Chen Schwartz, the Israeli soldier who was shot twice at close range by a terrorist on a motor scooter in Jerusalem.
The surgery was difficult because of the tremendous damage to his body and massive bleeding, Prof. Eid reported. But, he noted: "We used everything we could to save this man. When you are in such a situation at Hadassah, you know that you will never give up until you find a way to save him."
Surgical Nurse Reuven Gelfond, who headed the Israel Defense Forces’ field hospitals in Haiti and the Philippines, echoed Prof. Eid’s sentiments. The Mt. Scopus health care team, she said, is determined to do the near impossible to save a life.
Although the surgery has alleviated the threat to Chen’s life, he will need further surgery to improve his condition as soon as he is strong enough. Chen, age 19, is now recovering in Hadassah’s Intensive Care Unit, where his parents, sister, and friends are taking turns visiting him.
"The care here is so wonderful," said his mother, Miri Schwartz. "The staff is so embracing. Please pass on my thanks to the Hadassah women and supporters abroad who have created this wonderful hospital. We have no illusions. Without them, our son would have died. He's a strong boy and with God's help and Hadassah's, he's going to make it."
Israeli Prison Service Officer Ariel Twitto was on his way to pick up his children from nursery school camp after accompanying a prisoner to court when he and fellow officer, Elad Biton, heard someone shouting "Piguah!" (terror attack!).
They ran to the scene and saw the driver of a bulldozer crashing into a city bus and overturning it. Twitto shot the terrorist twice, but the terrorist turned the bulldozer toward him. While continuing to shoot, Twitto climbed up to the driver's door. The driver made a sharp turn and shook him off. By then, other security forces had arrived and Twitto was taken to Hadassah's Hospital on Mount Scopus, where Hadassah’s orthopedists examined him and pronounced him well enough to go home. Barbara Sofer, Hadassah’s Israel Director of Public Relations visited those injured in the terrorist attack and thanked Twitto in the name of all Jerusalem’s citizens and in the name of the over 330,000 Hadassah supporters around the world.
While on a break from serving with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in Gaza, Dr. David Rekhtman, head of the Pediatric Emergency Room at Hadassah's Hospital in Mount Scopus, came to visit one of the dozen wounded soldiers from his unit. This was his first day back at work after three weeks of serving in reserve duty.
With every step, Dr. Rekhtman is stopped by co-workers, who engulf him with hugs. "So glad to see you back," they say. He gets a briefing: one child was sent home after being treated for drinking kerosene. Another had a fever. Another needed a CT scan. One of the residents needed his advice about a Palestinian baby who had seizures. Dr. Rekhtman wants to check the baby's head circumference, but remembers that his tape measure is still in the kit bag, packed for Gaza. The resident tosses him another one. The child will undergo further examinations. He wants a neurologist to stop by. Does it feel unusual to be examining a Palestinian child after caring for his soldiers in Gaza? "Not at all," says Dr. Rekhtman. "I see a sick person in front of me and use all the training I have to try to make him or her better. That part is simple."
Dr. Rekhtman, 39, was born in Yekaterinburg, the fourth largest city in Russia (formerly called Sverdlovsk) and completed medical school there at the Academy of Medicine. He experienced anti-Semitism and soon after found himself on a trip to Israel. Visiting the Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem, he had an overpowering sense of Jewish peoplehood and decided to make aliyah. Dr. Rekhtman completed his residency in pediatrics at Hadassah and served in the IDF. He is married to Hadassah Nurse Yifat Rozental Rekhtman, who holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Hadassah. She serves as the coordinator of children's heart surgery at Hadassah Hospital-Ein Kerem.
"I took part in the second Lebanon War as an IDF physician," relates Dr. Rekhtman. "I felt a greater sense of security this time when I crossed the border with our troops. It may be because the army took away our cellphones and I could focus wholly on our mission. The hardest part of the day is the waiting and not knowing what's coming. When we are in battle, I know what to do." His battalion had the job of engaging in battle so that the combat engineers could safely come into the area and destroy the tunnels and take apart the boobytraps.
When asked if he'd ever seen injured or sick children like those he routinely treats in Hadassah’s Emergency Room, he replied: "Despite what you hear in the media, the areas we fought in were devoid of civilian populations. I never saw a hurt or sick child while I was there."
How does his experience as a soldier in combat make him different from medical colleagues he meets at conferences abroad?
"You are a pediatrician like all your colleagues," he says. "But serving on the front line gives you experience making quick and daring decisions. You have a very strong sense of the price of life. You have to deal with death in a more intense way than you do inside a hospital. You bring that experience back with you, whether you are treating patients or doing research."
Dr. Rekhtman is proud to serve his country and feels that the members of his unit are his children. Nonetheless, he was so happy to spend the Sabbath with his wife and two small children before heading back to work. "I was worried the whole time,” comments Mrs. Rekhtman, “and it wasn't easy for me and the children, a six-year-old son and a four-year-old daughter. We were so happy to have him home.”
Photo by The Forward
Eleven-month-old Sanad is recovering in the pediatric surgery ward of the Charlotte R. Bloomberg Mother and Child Center. His aunt, Basma, is keeping a watchful eye on the curly-haired wide-eyed child.
"Basma means smile, and today I am smiling," she said. Sanad, who was born with a congenital liver disease, developed a huge cyst--the size of a round challah, according to his surgeon, Dr. Gidi Zamir. The cyst was compromising his growth, appetite, and kidneys.
"We see several Gazan children with liver diseases every month," said Dr. Eyal Shteyer, one of Hadassah's pediatric hepatologists (liver experts). We either hear directly from physicians in Gaza or are referred to from Jerusalem's Mukassed Hospital. Sanad's doctor in Gaza saw the growth on a CT scan and, a month ago--several days before Operation Protective Edge--his aunt brought him to Hadassah from Deir al Balah, a city of 55,000, in central Gaza.
Dr. Shteyer is a lieutenant in the Israeli reserves and deals with hospital care in the case of a terror attack. "When the rocket fell several miles from Hadassah Hospital, my patients called to see if I was okay," he relates. "I call them in Gaza, too, to see if they are all right. Even in these hard times, I believe in the hope for peace."
Sanad's post-op prognosis is good, Dr. Shteeyer relates. He adds: "His parents aren't allowed to come in. I don't know why and I don't want to know why. I have a sick child in front of me and want to make him well. I see every Palestinian patient as my own bridge for peace."
Last week, Paratrooper Oron Ronen’s sunny, single room in the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower was full of candy, fruit, and small electric appliances. These were all gifts for the wounded soldier, who was injured in Israel's latest defense mission, Operation Protective Edge. After two weeks at Hadassah, he was finally ready to go home.
Oron had been in a fire fight with a group of terrorists in Gaza when he felt something hit him, but he kept on fighting. It was only later that he noticed all the blood.
"The adrenaline must do it," said Oron.
When Oron arrived at Hadassah, he had a bullet hole in his shoulder and a nasty wound.
"In my opinion,” commented Oron’s Dad, Ziv Ronen, “this hospital is number one in the country." Mr. Ronen is an agronomist, who lives in the northern town of Kfar Yehezekel. "I've been to hospitals all around the country and nothing compares," he said.
"We're leaving with the phone number of Prof. Iri Liebergall (head of Orthopedics) in my pocket," Mr. Ronen added. "Prof. Libergall says, ‘Call me Iri.’ What could be better than that?"
While on vacation, shortly before he was to begin medical school, David Fintzi was electrocuted when he touched an active power line as he got on a train. The jolt, he said, “blew me right off!”
When the physicians in Romania, as well as consultants in Germany, feared that they would not be able to save his life, the local Jewish community rallied and arranged for David to be airlifted to the Hadassah Medical Center. Hear David and his parents tell the story below:
To read more about David’s inspiring medical journey, read Electrocuted Romanian Medical Student, Airlifted to Hadassah, Making Progress
The difficult journey from a diagnosis of leukemia through life-saving treatment at the Hadassah Medical Center began for Shahar at about age six when she began to feel extremely tired in ballet class and found herself wanting to sleep an abnormal amount. Her father and mother, Amos and Esther Israel, took Shahar for many examinations. And then they discovered a lump.
Because Esther Israel is a cancer survivor herself and because Hadassah saved her life, she and Amos took Shahar to Hadassah, where she was cared for by Dr. Michael Weintraub, head of Pediatric Hemato-Oncology and his health care team. As he explains, when Shahar came to Hadassah, her life was in danger. She went through a very difficult time because the process toward cure is arduous for both the child and the parents. But, today, she is a healthy pre-teenager--free of leukemia.
Each year, Shahar (which means "dawn" in Hebrew) comes back to Hadassah’s pediatric oncology department to speak with parents and their children, providing wonderful, uplifting evidence of life after leukemia. As she says: "I dance; I have sports; I do everything; I am like a new Shahar"!
At Hadassah’s 2014 Convention this month, Shahar celebrated her Bat Mitzvah with the delegates in Las Vegas, Nevada. Watch below to meet Shahar and hear her story.
The Hadassah Medical Organization’s protocol for victims of heart attacks translates into 34 minutes from the time a patient arrives at Hadassah until the blocked artery is opened, relates Prof. Haim Danenberg, Director of Interventional Cardiology. This is the shortest time in Israel and one of the shortest times in the world, he says.
Hadassah is also a pioneer in minimally invasive heart valve replacement and other interventional cardiac techniques.
To read about another cardiac patient saved by Prof. Danenberg, click here: Mid-Workout, Hadassah Doctor Sprints to Save a Life
Dr. Efraim Zuroff, Director of The Simon Wiesenthal Center, is one of Hadassah’s recent cardiac success stories. Hadassah, he says, “restored me to full health and to confidence in my health.”
This past October, David Kazhdan, world-renowned mathematician, Talmud scholar, and biker was run over by the wheel of a tractor-trailer while bicycling with his son. He was brought to the Hadassah Medical Center’s Trauma Unit close to death.
Prof. Avi Rivkind, head of Trauma, saved his life by giving him an expensive medicine that is ordinarily not provided to a patient in Mr. Kazhdan’s situation. But, as Prof. Rivkind explains, "You can’t argue with success."
Below, hear Mr. Kazhdan’s story from his son, Eli, his mother, Helena, Prof. Rivkind, and Isabella Schwartz, head of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Hadassah
"You are in the best place in the world, where everyone cares for your son," Her Excellency, Professor and Governor of New South Wales Marie Bashir said. She was speaking to the mother of Baby Ali—in Arabic—during her recent visit to the Hadassah Medical Organization. The mother responded, “I know.”
Ali was born with a life-threatening immune deficiency that affects his lungs. He is being cared for under the direction of Dr. Phillip Toltzis, head of Hadassah's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, which Hadassah Australia has supported.
Dr. Bashir, a medical doctor and a psychiatrist, spent two mornings visiting Hadassah Hospital in Ein Kerem and in Mount Scopus. During her visit to Mt. Scopus, she visited the newly dedicated Jack and Robert Smorgon Families Foundation Healing and Environmental Garden, a project of Hadassah Australia, in partnership with Kerem Kayemet L'Yisroel (KKL)/Jewish National Fund (JNF) Australia.
While touring the pediatric hemato-oncology unit with Unit Head Dr. Michael Weintraub, Dr. Bashir met young patients from Israel and the West Bank who are undergoing treatment for cancer and genetic diseases. 10-year-old Nuraladin, from the West Bank city of Nablus, was surprised, his mother said, when the elegant lady from Australia addressed him in Arabic.
A further highlight of the Governor’s visit was meeting with Dr. Amal Bishara, who heads Hadassah's bone marrow registry for Arabs.
Although only about 1.2 million of the world’s 400 million ethnic Arabs live in Israel, the sole registry for Arab bone marrow donors is located in Jerusalem. To date, Israel’s Arab registry has found successful bone marrow matches for 36 patients. Requests for donors continue to flow in from around the globe.
"The whole world should see what is going on at Hadassah Hospital," said Dr. Bashir. "Here we all know we're part of the same human family.”
Principal Investigator Dr. Rinat Abramovitch of the Hadassah Medical Organization’s Goldyne Savad Institute of Gene Therapy, has been awarded a grant from the European Society of Anesthesiology (ESA) for her work regarding the beneficial effect of using fresh blood for transfusions in surgery patients.
The €60,000 grant is awarded each year to only two recipients. Dr. Abramovitch’s study, entitled "Modifications of the Liver Regenerative Process as a Consequence of Bleeding and Transfusion of Red Blood Cells with Different Storage Time: Fresh vs. ‘Aged’," has thus far revealed that patients who lose blood during and after surgery for tumor excision do better with transfused blood that has just been donated, as opposed to blood that has been stored for a long time in the blood bank. “The liver regenerates better with newer blood,” Dr. Abramovitch explains. “No one knew that before.”
Her finding could, for example, affect the treatment of patients who undergo partial hepatectomy. "In these difficult times, when funding for research is hard to get,” comments Dr. Abramovitch, “this grant helps greatly to continue and deepen our study in the next three years. Of course, it is very flattering to get world recognition of the importance of our work by a European organization, in addition to the recognition and support received from the Chief Scientist of the Israeli Health Ministry."
Unlike countries where couples spend their entire life savings trying to conceive a child with the help of expensive medical intervention such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), Israel provides free IVF until a woman has two babies or reaches age 45. Israel has the highest per capita use of IVF in the world.
According to Prof. Arye Hurwitz, head of the Hadassah Medical Center’s IVF Unit, Hadassah provides over 5,000 IVF procedures each year to patients from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and abroad. Here are the stories of just a few of the patients that Hadassah helps each year to overcome their fertility issues and become parents.
Miriam and Allon*
Becoming a kindergarten teacher was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for Miriam. She had always loved children. She loved watching her young students grow and develop, eliciting their joy and wiping their occasional tears. She dreamt of having children of her own but, nearing 40, she was still single. She decided that she’d rather have a child on her own than face a future without her own children. Knowing that artificial insemination is covered by health insurance in Israel, she discussed this possibility with her physician, who referred her to Hadassah.
“Miriam didn’t become pregnant with regular insemination, nor with a first attempt of IVF,” relates Prof. Hurwitz. “She had blocked fallopian tubes.”
Despite the lack of success, Miriam was determined to continue. A Dad, bringing his little girl to nursery school one day, tarried to talk with her. Allon was widowed; his wife had passed away from breast cancer. He invited Miriam to have coffee with him.
And so their romance began. Miriam told Allon about her decision to become a parent. He offered himself as a solution. Using Allon’s sperm, Miriam became pregnant and had a baby girl.
How does Dr. Hurwitz explain the success of the second trial with IVF? “We use the most advanced methods,” he says, “but it’s impossible to quantify the psychological aspects because we don’t know the role of stress. But you can’t argue with success.”
Danny and Nechama*
Danny, a married army officer, was given the horrifying news that he had testicular cancer. In the same moment, he feared for his life and was devastated by the thought that he would never be able to father children. But the Hadassah doctors had words of comfort: He could freeze his sperm for whenever he and his wife wanted to have a baby.
Life is not short on complications, however. Danny’s wife, Nechama, it turned out, is a carrier of the gene associated with muscular dystrophy, an incurable and fatal childhood disease. Consequently, the couple needed to resort to IVF so they could pre-select potential embryos that were free of the lethal gene. Despite the complexity, Nechama became pregnant with a healthy baby.
Gila and Ronit*
Gila and Ronit are a single-sexed couple, both around 40 years of age. Although Gila had a baby from a previous insemination, the couple wanted to have babies, ideally, from the same father. They applied for artificial insemination and both underwent fertility treatment at Hadassah. Gila became pregnant after the fertility treatment, but Ronit needed IVF. Both women learned they were pregnant with twins. While they were absorbing the news, both women lost one of the fetuses. Within one week of each other, they both gave birth at Hadassah to baby girls.
Nadine and Mordechai*
When Nadine discovered she had cancer and was in need of chemotherapy, she decided to have her eggs frozen. Tragically, her cancer was incurable. Her husband, Mordechai, eventually remarried. His wife, Sarah, couldn’t conceive. After much discussion, they applied to the courts to use Nadine’s frozen eggs. After hearing the case and meeting the couple, the court gave its blessings. The fertility team at Hadassah provided the medical solution and helped to create a family.
*Names changed to protect privacy.
“Seven years ago, I looked out the window and saw rocks and thorns and dirt, said Prof. Eitan Kerem, Director of the Hadassah Medical Center’s Division of Pediatrics, at the June 22nd dedication of the Jack and Robert Smorgon Families Foundation Healing and Environmental Garden. “Today,” he continued, “we have grass and flowers and a pirate ship and a vegetable garden for our small patients and their families.”
Attending the dedication at Hadassah Hospital-Mount Scopus were Jack Smorgon of Australia, family members, Director General of the Ministry of Health Prof. Arnon Afek, and representatives from Hadassah Australia, JNF Australia, KKL-JNF Israel, and Hadassah, including National President Marcie Natan.
The garden was spearheaded by a partnership between Hadassah Australia and Kerem Kayemet L'Yisroel (KKL)/Jewish National Fund (JNF) Australia "to provide a sanctuary of calm, of light, of beauty, for those children who are facing serious, long-term illness, so that they can connect with nature, sit under a blue sky with family and friends, and leave a troubled world behind--even for just a few minutes a day."
“You in faraway Australia,” Mrs. Natan noted, “have worked hard to show generations of people here in Jerusalem, particularly the unfortunate children who have chronic diseases, that people thousands of kilometers away care about making their lives better. This garden is an important reflection of Hadassah’s humane mission within Jerusalem’s unique heterogeneous population.”
She added: “I look out at you and see donors who are privileged to be able to bring healing to the children of Israel. “We thank you in their names.” Jack Smorgon spoke about the perfect fit of this project with the goals of the Smorgon Foundation, which focuses on community, environmental issues and, above all, children. Hadassah-Mt. Scopus Director Dr. Osnat Levtzion Korach brought out that the garden would be an icebreaker among the different patients and their parents, who would mingle there. In addition, when possible, treatment will be given to the children in the garden.
“The garden surpasses any expectations I had,” said Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. ”Such tranquility amidst one of the best hospitals in the world”! Praising Hadassah’s service to the community, both in medical treatment and research, the Mayor commented that Hadassah’s medical excellence was one of the reasons Jerusalemites want to live in the united city.
A highlight of the dedication ceremony was the singing of the Australian National Anthem and Waltzing Matilda by Gideon Aroni, who donated the monetary gifts from his Bar Mitzvah celebration to the healing garden.
Earlier this month, Jerusalem hosted an international symposium dealing with inherited diseases of the pancreas. The symposium was organized by Prof. Michael Wilschanski, Director of Hadassah’s Pediatric Gastroenterology Unit, along with Prof. Markus M. Lerch of Greifswald University Hospital, Germany, and Prof. David C. Whitcomb of the University of Pittsburgh, PA.
Among the presenters from Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Norway, Spain, and the United States were physicians who specialize in identifying genes that are related to chronic diseases of the pancreas. Several presentations addressed aspects of the CFTR gene (Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator), which provides instructions for making a protein called the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator. This protein functions as a channel across the membrane of cells that produce mucus, sweat, saliva, tears, and digestive enzymes. Disease-causing mutations in the CFTR gene alter the production, structure or stability of this channel and prevent the channel from functioning properly. They impair the transport of chloride ions and the movement of water into and out of cells so that the cells that line the passageways of the lungs, pancreas, and other organs produce mucus that is abnormally thick and sticky. The abnormal mucus, in turn, obstructs the airways and glands.
Symposium topics included “25 Years of the CFTR Discovery”; Compound CFTR and other Mutations in Children”; “Genotype, Phenotype, and Functional Correlations of CFTR Mutations”; and “The Role of CFTR Mutations in Pancreatitis.”
Prof. Wilschanski, in his presentation, presented his recent research findings regarding “Therapeutic Approaches to Correct CFTR Dysfunction,” which were published in the May 14 issue of Lancet Respiratory Medicine.The article, coauthored with Prof. Eitan Kerem, head of Hadassah’s Pediatrics Division, and other global colleagues, describes a study conducted over a number of years with patients from 36 sites in 11 countries in North America and Europe, which explored the safety and efficacy of the drug, ataluren, in cystic fibrosis patients who have “nonsense mutations.” This category of mutation refers to a change in the DNA that prematurely stops the reading of messenger RNA (mRNA), resulting in a polypeptide chain that ends prematurely and a protein product that is incomplete and usually nonfunctional. Ataluren was developed to restore functional protein production in genetic disorders caused by nonsense mutations—which, in turn, are the cause of cystic fibrosis in 10 percent of patients. The authors note that their research indicates ataluren “might be beneficial for patients who are not taking chronic inhaled tobramycin.”
Others aspects of pancreatic disease discussed at the symposium were the genetics of pancreatic pain, genetic predispositions to pancreatic cancer, and molecular genetics in pancreatic cancer.
BioLineRx Ltd. has received approval from the Israeli Ministry of Health to commence a Phase 1 trial for BL-8040, a novel treatment for mobilizing stem cells from the bone marrow for treating acute myeloid leukemia, as well as other hematological malignancies. The study is expected to begin during the third quarter of 2014 at the Hadassah Medical Organization.
Dr. Kinneret Savitsky, Chief Executive Officer of BioLineRx, explains that stem cell mobilization is being used more and more as a method of collecting stem cells, instead of the traditional surgical procedure of bone marrow harvesting. Current treatment regimens, she notes, involve daily injections of G-CSF, a growth factor that stimulates the bone marrow to make white blood cells.
These injections are given for 4-6 days with or without the addition of a mobilizing agent such as Plerixafor (Mozobil). A previous Phase 1/2 study in multiple myeloma patients revealed that BL-8040 given as a single injection in combination with G-CSF injections was highly effective in mobilizing stem cells. The current trial aims to evaluate the mobilization capacity of one or two injections of BL-8040 as a stand-alone therapy, which could significantly shorten treatment and reduce costs.
Prof. Eitan Kerem, world-renowned cystic fibrosis specialist and head of the Hadassah Medical Organization’s Division of Pediatrics, has been awarded the European Cystic Fibrosis Society (ECFS)’s 2014 prize for his outstanding work in CF.
Prof. Kerem is the principal investigator of many national and international multi-center clinical trials and author of over 170 papers in the field of pulmonology. His research spans such topics as the association between phenotype and genotype, prediction of disease severity and mortality, molecular mechanisms that affect variability in disease, and development of new mutation-specific pharmacological therapies to correct the basic defects in CF. Prof. Kerem was also instrumental in formulating the guidelines that paved the road toward the standardization of CF care in Europe and other parts of the world.
At the same time, Prof. Kerem has been a leader in promoting the rights of children with chronic diseases and advocating for proper care of these children. He has also been at the forefront of building bridges to peace through medicine, sharing his expertise with Palestinian colleagues and promoting professional exchanges between Palestinians and Israelis.
Prof. Kerem has served as Chairman of the Medical Advisory Board of Israel’s CF Foundation and on the board of the ECFS, as well as president of the International Congress on Pediatric Pulmonology.
Hadassah’s Experimental School (HES), which provides hospitalized children of all ages and backgrounds with an education in its unique hospital-based school, has been honored with Israel’s National Education Award by the Ministry of Education.
Mrs. Edna Pinchover, HES principal, along with two students from the oncology ward, received the prestigious award from Education Minister MK Shai Piron, in a celebratory ceremony held this month. “We received a tremendous round of applause,” relates Mrs. Pinchover. “As the founder of this unique school, it was truly heartwarming to see our staff and children receive this wonderful recognition, especially from Minister Piron himself.”
With a team of teachers, nurses, and volunteers, the children are taught in their native language: Hebrew, Arabic and English. A significant portion of the curriculum centers around cooking, since when the children cook the food themselves, they are motivated to eat, whereas they tend to have poor appetites otherwise. At the same time, math and reading are integrated into the cooking lessons.
Prof. Eitan Kerem, Director of Hadassah’s Division of Pediatrics, emphasizes the vital role that HES plays in the healing and rehabilitation process for young patients. He notes: “Patients in our pediatric ward are, first and foremost, children. They deserve a normal childhood, including an elementary education. Even as patients, the constant connection with a “healthy lifestyle” is an important piece of their complete recovery. Hadassah’s Experimental School creates a unique and vital opportunity for children to thrive within an educational framework, while taking their current state and health into consideration.”
In cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO)’s “No Smoking Day 2014,” the Hadassah Medical Organization’s employees and visitors received up-to-date information about the negative health effects of smoking as well as advice on therapeutic interventions to help them delete this habit from their lives.
Hadassah was the first Israeli medical institution to ban smoking from its halls and its Center for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the only holistic center in Israel that provides the most advanced multidisciplinary treatment for COPD patients.
Every patient is provided with an individualized treatment plan, which aims to enhance the person’s quality of life, through addressing physical, emotional, nutritional, and familial challenges that have resulted because of the smoking and subsequent COPD. The Center also helps patients stop smoking and deal with the withdrawal systems. As Center Founder Prof. Raphael Breuer explains: "We believe that the patient deserves not only lung medication, but also comprehensive care that addresses his needs in the community--whether it is planning a special diet to fight against obesity or underweight or granting emotional help.”
According to the WHO, six million people will die this year as a result of smoking-related health damage and a 10th of these will be due to second-hand smoke.
One recent Friday afternoon, Dr. Haim Danenberg, Director of Interventional Cardiology at the Hadassah Medical Organization, was out for a run, cell phone strapped to his forearm, as is his tradition. When he received the call that he was needed for emergency heart surgery, he immediately came to Hadassah’s Catheterization Laboratory to greet Michael Kosofsky, who just suffered a heart attack.
Mr. Kosofsky, a 54-year-old insurance broker and father of four, had been playing basketball with his friends when he felt a sudden heavy pressure on his chest and collapsed on the court. The ambulance crew brought Mr. Kosofsky straight to Hadassah’s Catheterization Lab, where Dr. Danenberg, also a father of four, was waiting for him.
Said Kosofsky, originally from Maplewood, New Jersey: "I need to thank God and his Hadassah agents on this earth."
To bridge the gaps between pediatric emergency room (ER) and community medical care, heads of Hadassah’s emergency services reached out to neighborhood physicians and medics to share information and initiate a dialogue.
Dr. Saar Hashavya, who heads Pediatric Emergency Services at Hadassah’s Hospital in Ein Kerem, and Chief Emergency Room Nurse Pnina Sharon, as well as Prof. Eitan Kerem, head of Hadassah’s Pediatrics Division, saw this as an opportunity to get feedback from community doctors and medics who routinely care for Jerusalem’s youngsters. They wanted to let them know about the care Hadassah provides once their patients reach the ER. Hadassah's pediatric emergency rooms treat over 30,000 patients every year. The message Hadassah’s experts sought to convey was, "We're here for you and we want you to feel part of Hadassah," explains Dr. Hashavya.
“Hadassah's roots are in community medicine, and we feel good joining hands with the larger Jerusalem community," he added. "That means that when doctors refer a patient to us, we want to report back to them, both with our initial findings and follow-up." Among the Hadassah specialists who addressed the group were a pediatric neurosurgeon, cardiologist, dermatologist, emergency care physician, and an intensive care specialist. Diverse topics were covered, including screening children at risk, heart problems in children, new thinking in regard to epilepsy, as well as snake and insect bites. The topics had been suggested by community and drop-in clinic physicians, as well as health care professionals who care for patients in the ambulance.
"Our relationship with the community pediatricians is of key importance,” comments Prof. Kerem. “We would like them to use Hadassah Pediatrics as a resource for their daily activities and in emergency situations. Likewise, we have a lot to learn from them about what is happening in the community."
AUSiMED (Australia/Israel Medical Research) successfully ran its first international collaborative research symposium in Melbourne between Australian and Israeli researchers earlier in May.
The pediatric research symposium brought together top researchers from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute (MCRI) in Melbourne and the Hadassah's Hospitals in Jerusalem. It focused on the following research topics:
The Symposium was developed at the suggestion of Prof Vicki Anderson from MCRI, following her return from an AUSiMED-sponsored visit to Israel. Prof Anderson saw value in bringing together researchers from Hadassah with those from MCRI, specifically on the key research topics. This was consistent with MCRI’s support for the Royal Children’s Hospital plan to develop a centre of excellence for managing chronic disease. MCRI was also looking for a collaborator in the Middle East to explore complex genetic issues.
There were five significant collaborations developed from the Symposium, for which AUSiMED is immensely proud:
An appreciative heart attack victim recounts the innovative protocol that the Hadassah Medical Organization put into action to ensure his survival and quality of life. In his letter, he also highlights the groundbreaking procedures—like one for dissolving blood clots--that Hadassah pioneered, saving thousands of lives.
“I was at home on Kibbutz Tzorah when the chest pain started. I am grateful that my wife insisted that we go to the Kupat Cholim center. They gave me an ECG and immediately called the ambulance to take me to Hadassah Hospital, because with the Hadassah-trained emergency medical service and specially equipped ambulances, the treatment for my heart attack started the moment that the ambulance arrived.
During the 30-minute ride to Hadassah Hospital, I was given a clot-busting medication. The medics in the ambulance sent (by mobile phone) a copy of the ECG they took while we were traveling to Hadassah. On seeing the results, the doctors there decided that I would go directly to Hadassah’s Catheterization Lab. They were waiting to receive me the moment I arrived at the Catheterization clinic and the cardiologist was ready to operate on me immediately. I never even went through the Emergency Room!! I was the beneficiary of a process started at Hadassah that has saved thousands of lives over the years.
It was only later that I learned the details about the research and treatment protocol that had resulted in Hadassah saving my life. In the l980s, Hadassah researchers were part of the group that showed that in heart attacks, a blood clot (thrombus) obstructs the coronary artery. Hadassah was the first hospital in the world to initiate the practice of dissolving a thrombus with streptokinase.
When mortality rates dropped dramatically with the use of clot-busting medications, Hadassah introduced the concept of beginning the procedure as early as possible-- while the patient was still in the ambulance. Emergency medical technicians on the ambulances were provided with special training and equipment.
Realizing that to save a heart patient’s life, it is also crucial to get the patient to the Catheterization Lab as soon as possible, Hadassah refined the protocol by having the patient brought straight from the ambulance to the Catheterization Lab. In this way, it can be less than an hour from the first moment a patient experiences heart pain to the time an interventional cardiologist opens his artery. As a result, mortality rates drop even more significantly and damage to the heart muscle is minimized.
The heart failure mortality rate in Jerusalem is notably lower than that in other parts of Israel, thanks to Hadassah’s procedures. It used to be that mortality rates from heart attacks were 15 to 20 percent; with the medication and catheterization, it has dropped to 2.5% at Hadassah!
I am still coming to the Cardiac Rehabilitation Unit, called ”O2,” which is in the Riklis building at Hadassah-Har Hatzofim (Mount Scopus) on a regular basis. I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful the treatment I have received has been. The staff has been incredibly dedicated and supportive. Even during the period in February when there was a strike at Hadassah, the center was open and fully staffed!
Todah rabah (Thank you), Hadassah. Thanks to you, I have been given the gift of many more years to enjoy my grandchildren.
The exclusive International Society of Orthopedic Centers (ISOC) has announced that it is expanding its membership to include one center in the Middle East: the Hadassah Medical Organization.
“The global election of Hadassah’s orthopedic complex by ISOC,” comments Hadassah Director General Avigdor Kaplan, “brings an international spotlight to its excellence and contribution to the development of medicine in Israel and throughout the world. We congratulate Prof. Iri Liebergall, head of Orthopedics, and his outstanding staff for their trailblazing work in treatment and research.”
The ISOC was founded in 2006 to pool international knowledge and create a brain trust that would focus on quality management systems in a world where demand for orthopedic care outstrips supply. “The greatest experts in orthopedics in the world sit at the table and share issues and learn from each other,” notes Founding Executive Director Dr. Thomas P. Sculco of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.
“We want to have collaboration stretch across not just clinical, but also research and educational boundaries.” A further important aspect of ISOC’s cooperative effort, Dr. Sculco explains, is that residents are able to train at various top centers within a unified program.
When it was first founded, the ISOC limited its membership to 10 top centers. After its initial meeting, the group decided to expand its membership to have a broader representation from different cultures, but without compromising its rigorous standards. Member organizations must be specialty orthopedic hospitals or academic medical centers that have large orthopedic departments. They must perform a minimum of 5,000 orthopedic surgeries each year, have at least 20 orthopedic surgeons who do research and training, employ fellows and residents, and have an active research arm.
Hadassah’s reputation was boosted internationally by both breakthrough computer navigation in orthopedic surgery and the employment of stem cells in healing complex bone fractures. The large number of orthopedic surgeries performed at Hadassah, along with the capacity to treat terror victims with expertise and creativity attracted the attention of leading practitioners around the world.
Interim results from Israel’s BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics’ Phase IIa stem cell clinical trial, conducted at the Hadassah Medical Center for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), are promising.
Brainstorm reports that the positive safety and preliminary efficacy results observed in this study are consistent with the results observed in the company's previous Phase I/II trial. Between the two studies, a total of 26 patients have been treated with NurOwn™, BrainStorm’s stem cell therapy. Senior Hadassah Medical Center Neurologist and Principal Investigator Prof. Dimitrios Karussis recently presented these results at the Joint Congress of European Neurology in Istanbul.
None of the 26 patients who received NurOwn™ in the two trials experienced any treatment-related serious adverse events. In the three month, pre-treatment “run-in” period, 71% of the patients showed progression of disease, with decline in neurological function. In contrast, in the three months post-transplantation with NurOwn™, 63% of the patients who received intrathecal (IT), or combined (IT) and intramuscular (IM) administration, showed stabilization or improvement in neurological function, as measured by their revised ALS functional rating score (ALSFRS-R). According to Prof. Karussis, these differences in the preliminary analysis were statistically significant.
Prof. Karussis summarized the results from both phases of the ALS clinical trial, and presented an interim analysis of the data for the first 10 out of 14 patients in the current Phase IIa trial. Results from the last four patients, he related, will be analyzed following completion of their six-month follow-up period.
In both phases of the trial, 63% of the patients treated with NurOwn™ via IT or combined IT and IM administration were defined as “responders” (slower progression of disability or improvement in their neurological function) at three months post-treatment, based on both their ALSFRS-R score and Forced Vital Capacity (FVC), an indication of respiratory function. The six patients treated with NurOwn™ in the earlier Phase I/II trial via IM administration only, primarily exhibited a localized positive effect. Similarly, in the same Phase I/II trial, the IT transplanted patients also showed indications of neurotrophic and regenerative effects, as evidenced by an increase in Compound Muscle Action Potential (CMAP) in the treated arm.
Prof. Karussis noted, “I am very encouraged by signs of disease stabilization and even improvement that we observed in a number of the treated subjects. Analysis of the complete data set will be invaluable in helping BrainStorm optimize the analysis of its Phase II study, which is about to launch in the United States.”
"We are very satisfied with the results observed so far in these two studies," commented Chaim Lebovits, BrainStorm's President. "The fact that some of the patients actually demonstrated clinical improvement surpassed our expectations of achieving stabilization or reduced rate of decline. We look forward to the completion of this trial and to building on these results in our double-blind, placebo controlled, multi-center study currently being launched in the USA."
“Hadassah and its amazing staff have given me a new chance to live a full and productive life and to enjoy my grandchildren for many years to come,” says a most gracious patient Richard Wunsh.
South African by birth and now an Israeli citizen battling cancer, he expresses his appreciation to the staff and volunteers of the Hadassah Medical Center:
“I immigrated to Israel from South Africa in 1968 and I cannot begin to tell you how thankful I am that Hadassah Hospital services the area that I live in. Hadassah, its various volunteers and its staff, have been incredible. Even during the recent strike I received the most amazing treatment and care.
From the very first, the doctors and nurses at Hadassah went out of their way to make sure that I received the best medical treatment possible. After consulting doctors directly or through members of my family in Australia, England, and South Africa, I was told that I was being treated at one of the best hospitals in the world and that I had nothing to worry about.
The staff, especially in the radiotherapy section of the oncology department, were amazing. They really care about every patient. During the “strike” that was called in early February--which coincided with the middle of my radiation treatment-- the doctors, nurses, porters, technicians, and even the cleaning personnel were there to make sure treatment for all the patients was on time in a clean, modern environment.
I used to leave my house in the early mornings for Hadassah, while hearing on the news in the car that the hospital was working with limited staff and dealing only with emergencies. I wondered whether the care in the oncology department would start to be affected or not, but it never was. The staff members, although morally and financially affected by what was going on, were always there with a smile on their faces--talking, joking and, of course, helping, answering questions, and dealing with problems that we (the patients) had. I take my hat off to the staff. Kol Hakavod (All the Respect--Kudos!).
At the forefront of global medicine in saving the lives of children with HIV/AIDS, the Hadassah Medical Organization has extended its outreach to orphans on the remote island of Bussi in Uganda.
The initiative is under the umbrella of Hadassah’s HIV/AIDS outreach project, entitled ART-Joy-Love, founded eight years ago by Prof. Dan Engelhard, head of Hadassah’s Pediatric AIDS Center and Pediatric Infectious Disease Unit.Prof. Engelhard’s vision was to provide not only treatment for the children, but also joy and love. Therefore, an important part of his medical team are medical clowns and volunteers.
Until the establishment of the Bussi Medical Center, which Prof. Engelhard helped to launch, residents of the nearby islands received no health services. When they were in need of treatment, they were forced to travel to hospitals in Kampala or Entebbe, many hours away by car.
Now, patients like four-year-old Alineo are treated at the Bussi Center. Alineo’s mother is sick with AIDS and unable to care for him, so his grandmother took him to the Center for treatment and his life was saved.
Heart health is a major focus for Hadassah in both the United States and Israel. In the U.S., thousands of women and girls are participating in walks, lectures, and health fairs under the aegis of Every Beat Counts: Hadassah’s Heart Health Program™. In Israel, the Hadassah Medical Organization’s Linda Joy Pollin Cardiovascular Wellness Center for Women--part of its Heart Health Institute—is taking the heart health message to children, mothers, and teachers in Palestinian schools in East Jerusalem. Dr. Donna Zfat-Zwas, Director of the Hadassah Medical Center’s Linda Joy Pollin Cardiovascular Wellness Center for Women, joined her team on a visit to two Palestinian East Jerusalem schools recently to see how well the Center’s heart health message is playing out among the children and their mothers.
Inside the Al-Eisawieh School for Girls, a public school in the Arab neighborhood adjacent to Hadassah's Mount Scopus campus, the stairs and walls of the school are decorated with tomatoes and cucumbers. A play is going on in the gym, where a girl dressed as a milk carton is debating another dressed as a Pepsi bottle.
In one classroom, the girls are cutting up salad. In another, they're turning vegetables into flowers to upgrade snack time. It wasn't always like that. Before, a truck might drive up during recess with soda and junk food for sale.
Across town in the Abu Tor girls' school, the teacher asks how many girls ate breakfast that morning. All the hands fly up. That's new. Many of the girls didn't consider eating a healthy breakfast before this. Their moms are delighted, and now often join them at the table.
Al-Eisawieh and Abu Tor are two of the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem targeted for intervention by Hadassah’s Wellness Center. In these lower-income families, mothers have little exposure to health education and little time and money to take care of themselves.
Dr. Zfat-Zwas explains: "We believe that a good place to start is in elementary school--not only to inculcate eating and exercise habits, but to impact their moms. When they begin eating a healthy breakfast and bringing a healthy snack to school, it changes the purchasing and eating habits of an entire family.”
In addition, since the schools have launched these creative educational programs, the teachers have lost weight too!
A journalist, who accompanied Dr. Zfat-Zwas on these visits, summed up the impact in her subsequent article: “I was so inspired, I wanted to dance! The principals of these schools have incorporated heart health into every aspect of learning... art, music, gym class, language, math, you name it! The girls put on shows for us, sang songs, conducted science experiments, did demonstrations--such as a dialogue between a can of Pepsi and a glass of milk, puppet shows, you name it. Enthusiasm, creativity, spunk--it was all there. They are going to save thousands of lives with their work, if not more. Entire families are going to be changed, nay, saved by [their] efforts!"
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During his trip to Jerusalem, Pope Francis landed at the helipad at Hadassah's Hospital on Mount Scopus. He was welcomed by Dr. Osnat Levtzion-Korach, the Director of Hadassah's Hospital on Mount Scopus, and a choir of Israeli children sang for him.See more on Haaretz
As his “day job,” Prof. Alex Margulis heads the Hadassah Medical Center’s Pediatric Plastic Surgery and Craniofacial Unit, where children born with birth defects or injured in terrorist attacks are given a new lease on life. At the same time, Prof. Margulis, at age 47, is still active in the Shayetet 13 Reserves, Israel’s Navy Seals Special Forces.
Specializing in sea-to-land incursions, counter-terrorism, sabotage, maritime intelligence gathering, and maritime hostage rescue, Shayetet 13 Seals enter enemy lands to carry out secret operations, stop intruding ships, and protect Israel’s coast.
About his day job, Prof. Margulis says: "I love the beauty of this profession which combines medicine and art. It's tangible and, at the end of the surgery, you can see the results."
Prof. Margulis completed his residency at Hadassah and then did a two-year fellowship at Chicago Children's Hospital, where he worked with Dr. Bruce Bauer, a world-famous plastic surgeon. As for his participation in Shayetet 13, he notes: "I wanted to be in the most challenging unit possible in the Israel Defense Forces. I believed I could cope with it and wanted to give my maximum. I've always wanted to do my most for Israel; I guess it’s a family ethic.”
Prof. Margulis’ grandfather, Nahum, was the only Margulis to survive the Holocaust.
Prof. Margulis’ father, Miron, was a Refusenik who fought, along with Natan Sharansky, for the right to make Aliyah to Israel. The family finally received permission to emigrate in 1977 when Alex was 10 years old.
Married to Irit, a social worker, Prof. Margulis has three children. "I'm Israeli in my bones and in my soul,” says Prof. Margulis. “My dream is still securing freedom for us by overcoming the internal problems and striving for peace."
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the start of multi-center Phase II clinical trials in the United States to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) with adult stem cell technology first introduced by the Hadassah Medical Organization’s Prof. Dimitrios Karussis, Senior Neurologist and head of Hadassah’s Multiple Sclerosis Center.
The treatment, developed by Israel’s BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics, involves injecting autologous stem cells (coming from the patients themselves) into the spinal fluid. Earlier clinical trials at Hadassah have shown that the treatment was both well tolerated and safe. “Ten of the 15 patients in the Hadassah trials responded or stabilized,” reports Prof. Karussis, “and the disease was halted, with their breathing improved. About three of them even showed that the disease had receded, with them improving dramatically.” He notes, however, that the treatment is not a permanent cure. The injection “probably has to be repeated after several months.”
Trials will begin at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and the
University of Massachusetts Memorial Hospital in Worcester and later be
initiated at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
A study by the Hadassah Medical Organization's heart specialists has revealed that increased levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) are correlated with "worse clinical outcome" in patients suffering from heart failure. "Thyroid imbalance," they report, "confers significant risk in heart failure and warrants attention." While it has been known that thyroid dysfunction affects cardiac function and is a risk factor for heart failure, the scientists report, "data regarding the clinical significance of TSH levels alone as a predictor of outcome in patients with heart failure is sparse." Their study evaluated the significance of TSH on clinical outcome in a large cohort of patients with chronic heart failure.
Study findings reveal that both a high and a low TSH level are associated with an increased mortality rate. In addition, TSH was also an independent predictor of death and cardiac-related hospitalization. For those patients not receiving thyroid hormone treatment, "TSH was an even stronger predictor of mortality." At the same time, increasing TSH levels above normal were "independently associated with increased mortality and cardiac-related hospitalizations." The study, entitled "The Effect of Thyroid Function on Clinical Outcome in Patients with Heart Failure," was published in the February 2014 issue of the European Journal of Heart Failure (Volume 16, Issue 2).
As part of World Down Syndrome Day, about 100 people participated in a conference at Hadassah Hospital-Mount Scopus on April 6, 2014, affording families of patients with Down syndrome from all over Israel an opportunity to meet with eminent specialists.
Hadassah's National Center for Down Syndrome on Mount Scopus, established 10 years ago under the direction of Dr. Ariel Tenenbaum, was one of the hosts. Hadassah’s Down syndrome center is a multidisciplinary, "one-stop shop" for individuals with "Trisomy 21," the other name for Down syndrome, indicating that those with the syndrome have three, rather than the usual pair, of #21 chromosomes.
This year’s conference zeroed in on the relationships within the family (parents, siblings, and others) and issues of integration into the community. In addition, Dr. Tenenbaum highlighted ongoing research projects at the Center and the various initiatives under his leadership.
The concept for an annual conference about Down syndrome was initiated in 2006 by Balbir Singh of the Singapore Down Syndrome Association and Joav Merrick of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in Israel.
These annual conferences are a collaboration among Hadassah, NICHD, the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Municipality of Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Down Syndrome Association (Yated), Keren Shalem, and the SHALVA Center in Jerusalem.
As academic institutions, the Hadassah University Medical Center and the Charité University Hospital of Berlin have agreed to work closely to advance teaching and research, with emphasis on pediatrics and the neurosciences.
The two hospitals will work to strengthen and intensify scientific contacts to "build a healthy world together." Plans are under way for research exchanges among doctors, scientists, and students in both partner facilities, as well as for development of joint research projects. Prof. Dr. Anette Grünters Kielisch, Dean of Charité, stated that she is very proud and happy to work with the Hadassah Medical Center and to link the manifold capacities and skills of the two facilities. "Together," she said, "we can react much faster to medical challenges."
Representatives from each institution participated in joint talks to define 10 projects in the fields of pediatrics and neuroscience on which they can collaborate. These projects will be announced in the near future.
The concept for this initiative came from Gady Gronich, Senior Director of Hadassah Germany, who with the help and leadership of Prof. Eitan Kerem, head of Hadassah's Division of Pediatrics, and his Hadassah colleagues (Dr. Arzy Shahar, Prof. Benjamin Bar-Oz, Prof. Tamir Ben-Hur, Prof. Dan Engelhard, Dr. Netta Levin, Dr. Adi Vaknin, and Dr. David Zangen) made this project possible.
Regine Sixt from Sixt car rental and leasing company, provided generous support for the project. Ms. Sixt sponsored this signing event together with Teva Pharmaceuticals of Israel.
To gain a greater understanding of the radiation therapy and support that pediatric cancer patients receive at the Hadassah Medical Organization, psychologists, social workers, and rehabilitation nurses from ALYN Woldenberg Family Hospital, Israel's only pediatric and adolescent rehabilitation facility, visited Hadassah for an in-depth briefing and tour.
ALYN's professional staff observed Hadassah's Radiotherapy Unit, including its simulation and radiation rooms and state-of-the art radiotherapy equipment. They met with the Unit's health care team and heard presentations from Dr. Marc Wygoda, the Unit's Director, who provided them with a general overview of the radiotherapy process, and Sarit Kaduri, Head Nurse of the Radiology Unit, who explained the type of guidance and support Hadassah gives its pediatric patients and their families.
ALYN, located in Jerusalem, cares for children with a wide range of congenital and acquired conditions, including cerebral palsy, neuromuscular diseases, spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, and burns. Many of the children are Hadassah patients.
Prof. Joseph Borman, Hadassah Medical Center cardiothoracic surgeon, who performed Israel's first heart transplant, tells the story of his personal and professional life in a newly published autobiography, entitled Open Hearts: Memoirs of a Cardiac Surgeon.
Originally from South Africa, Prof. Borman, who lives in Jerusalem with his wife, Ruth, of 58 years, had visited the Hadassah Medical Center during a trip to Israel to see a 10th anniversary of Independence exhibition. He met with then Deputy Director General Dr. Jack Karpas, a former South African, who immediately offered Prof. Borman a position in cardiothoracic surgery. Prof. Borman went on to serve as head of Hadassah's Cardiothoracic Surgery Department for 25 years.
In his autobiography's epilogue, Prof. Borman, now 85, writes: "I wish to be remembered as an individual who carried out his allotted time on this earth to the best of his ability in the most humane fashion."
During a recent visit to Israel, British Prime Minister David Cameron, accompanied by Israel’s President, Shimon Peres, viewed an exhibition showcasing collaborative stem-cell research between the UK and the Hadassah Medical Organization.
Among the researchers who briefed the two leaders about her work was Dr. Sharona Even-Ramof Hadassah’s Goldyne Savad Institute of Gene Therapy, who discussed the use of regenerative cell therapy for Parkinson’s disease. In this particular joint project, embryonic stem cells are developed into nerve cells, which degenerate in Parkinson’s. Dr. Even-Ram is working on the project withProf. Kevin Shakesheffof the University of Nottingham.
Scientists from the two countries have been working together for the past two years on stem cell projects under a program directed by BIRAX, the British Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership Regenerative Medicine Initiative.BIRAX is a £10-million initiative of the British Embassy in Israel and the British Council, in collaboration with the Pears Foundation and the United Jewish Israel Appeal. It supports research that employs stem cell therapies to treat diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. According to the British Council, over four million pounds has been committed to seven projects, “bringing together scientists in Britain and Israel to tackle some of the world’s most challenging health problems.”
Prime Minister Cameron recently launched a call for new UK-Israel
collaborative research into Alzheimer’s, type 1 diabetes, heart disease, and
Parkinson’s. Proposals are due in
Volunteers from the Happy Child Organization, together with the Hadassah Pediatric School decided that laughter was the best remedy—at least for Purim.
Arts and crafts, festive foods, a makeup and hairstyling corner, games and cartoons were scattered throughout the children's wing at Hadassah Ein Kerem.
"We brought the holiday spirit to the hospital where not everyone has a chance to celebrate," said Prof. Eitan Kerem,, Director of Pediatrics.
"The event was an amazing multicultural celebration," said Edna Pinchover, school director. "The Purim is a holiday that permits us all to look at the future without fear, celebrate and rejoice together. It was beautiful to see all ethnic groups join together in this joyful carnival, how wonderful to feel the enjoyment of the children and the pleasure of the cooperative spirit that marks Hadassah. Our thanks to all, and the very well-named Happy Child Organization."
With the Jewish holiday of Purim right around the corner, members of Israel's National Service and various volunteers, dressed in their finest Purim attire, brought an early celebration to the pediatric patients at the Hadassah Medical Organization. The costumed visitors' excitement, enthusiasm, and positive energy lifted the spirits of patients and staff alike.
In the new Neurosurgery Intensive Care Unit in the Hadassah Medical Center’s Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower, three patients recuperate:
Pictured with them is Prof. Yigal Shoshan, head of Neurosurgery. Prof. Shoshan will be the guest speaker at a gala in Southern California at the end of April.
On the eighth annual "Good Deeds Day" in Israel—a day dedicated to performing good deeds on behalf of others—volunteers visited various departments at the Hadassah Medical Organization to uplift the patients' spirits.
Visitors included soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces, members of the Jerusalem Traffic Unit of the Israel Police, medical clowns, and other individuals from various walks of life. They all came with one overall goal: to provide the patients with a dose of happiness, hope, and joy!
Although Oleksandr Huch and Arten Zapototskyi did not know each other in their homeland of Ukraine, today they are roommates on the fifth floor of the Hadassah Medical Organization's Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower.
Thanks to the help of private donors and volunteers, the two men were airlifted to Israel to be treated for the gunshot wounds they sustained while taking part in the Kiev demonstrations. Mr. Huch, an athlete and teacher in a teen sports center, was helping a wounded friend when a bullet passed through his upper leg. Mr. Zapototskyi, a corporate lawyer and father of two, took a bullet in his lung and his spine. Medical teams in the nearby countries of Germany and Austria declined to take the two men. Said a coordinator from the Ukraine, "They all knew that Israel had more experience with gunshot wounds."
Kiev's medical team, struggling to cope with Mr. Huch's open wound and complex fracture, had decided his left leg would need to be amputated when the possibility of bringing him to Israel was raised.
A facebook campaign, "Save Zapototskyi," asked for ideas about what could be done for him. Sending him to Hadassah kept coming up as a suggestion. "I'm grateful to be here," Mr. Zapototskyi says.
Mr. Zapototskyi had come to Kiev out of a compelling sense of civic duty. "I don't want to talk about the politics of the demonstrations," he said. "I want to concentrate on getting well." Tears well up as he looks at the photos of his wife and small children.
Spine specialist Prof. Leonid Kaplan, whose first language is Russian, is caring for Mr. Zapototskyi. Having decided against surgery, he plans to send his patient to the physical therapy department at Hadassah-Mount Scopus. Senior Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Amal Khoury is treating Mr. Huch. "He has a complex condition because he came to us with a serious infection," Dr. Khoury relates, "but I have no doubt that he will overcome it, recover fully, and regain his life and livelihood."
Thanks to advocacy by the Hadassah Medical Center's Linda Joy Pollin Cardiovascular Wellness Center, women's heart health took center stage in Israel's Knesset, with a special hearing in its Committee for the Status of Women and General Equality.
Following a compelling session in which experts and patients spoke passionately about the need for raising awareness about women's heart health, Committee Chair MK Aliza Lavie charged the Ministry of Health to create a coalition immediately to advance awareness of women's unique heart issues, both among women, as well as health care givers. "In the United States, since the "Go Red" initiative for women's heart health in 1997," related Dr. Donna Zfat-Zwas, Director of Hadassah's Pollin Center, "the numbers of women dying from heart attacks has fallen. We are thrilled that the Knesset has demanded a nationwide campaign from the Ministry of Health.
"We have to investigate why more women die of their heart attacks than men," continued Dr. Zfat-Zwas, "but we're speculating that women who have heart attacks have more hypertension, more diabetes, and more kidney problems than men who are admitted with heart disease."
Representing Haredi women, who are at higher risk for heart attack than other groups, Rachel Thaler of Jerusalem described how she ignored chest pain for months before having a full-scale heart attack. "If women in the general sector are not aware of the risks of heart disease," she brought out, "this is even more so among women in my sector, who have large families and are the main breadwinners." The Pollin Center has initiated community outreach programs in Haredi neighborhoods, as well as Arab localities, since Arab women are also at higher risk. Click to read more about the Pollin Center.
The loudspeaker announced the arrival of the bride. Guests rushed outside to the chuppah (wedding canopy) under the clear night sky in the Judean Hills at the Neve Ilan wedding venue. Every wedding is exciting, but tonight's is thrilling because 13 years ago, the young woman being married-- Adi Hudja--was on the verge of death in the trauma center at Hadassah University Hospital.
Thirteen years ago, Adi was scheduled to have her leg amputated. Now, she is walking easily down the aisle. Guests are applauding.
“Did you ever think you’d see her walking like this down the aisle?” whispers Barbara Sofer, Hadassah’s Israel Director of Public Relations, to the man standing to her left.
He can’t speak; he shakes his head “no.” This is Prof. Iri Liebergall, the head of Orthopedics at Hadassah, who saved her leg.
Standing closer to the chuppah is Prof. Avi Rivkind, head of the Trauma Unit. “Her cousin said I promised I’d dance with Adi at her wedding,” he says with wonder. Prof. Rivkind saved her life.
December 1, 2001 was a cold, clear winter night in Jerusalem. After Shabbat, Adi, then 13, and two cousins went downtown to Ben Yehudah Street for some fun. Just as they were about to return home, one of the cousins decided to get ice cream. Adi and cousin Racheli were waiting for her to return when a suicide bomber exploded next to Adi. That night, two terrorists and a car bomb exploded downtown killing 13 people, wounding hundreds.
Racheli was lightly injured. Adi had devastating injuries--shrapnel throughout her body, but mostly in her legs. She was rushed to Hadassah. The bleeding was so profuse that no matter how much blood she was given, she seemed to be bleeding to death. Doctors speculated that the nuts and bolts that had penetrated her skinny body had been soaked in rat poison or a similar substance to increase the amount of bleeding.
Her body temperature was dropping. That’s when Trauma Surgeon Prof. Rivkind decided to try the very expensive experimental drug, Nova 7. It had been developed for hemophiliacs, and it wasn’t supposed to be used for trauma victims.
But thanks to the Nova 7, the bleeding slowed. He gave her another dose.
The bleeding stopped.
Prof. Liebergall had been in Europe at a conference when he heard about the blast in Jerusalem. He headed for the airport to come home. When he landed early Sunday morning, he went straight to the hospital. He examined Adi. His staff thought she needed to have a leg amputated in order to save her life. Her mother had given her consent with a heavy heart. ”Anything to save my daughter,” she said.
“This was a dilemma for me,” said Prof Liebergall. “A dilemma means that you don’t know if you have the correct answer, but I felt we could save the limb and her life.”
And so, Adi began a long series of operations. The last was only a few months ago.
Articles in medical journals and text books tell the story of her miraculous recovery. But everyone knows that miracles do not happen in a vacuum. It takes a special team and a special hospital.
It took Adi a while to get her life organized after so much surgery, but she is now a university student, majoring in communications.
The night of her wedding, however, she is pure bride, as her dark hair frames her delicate features above the white dress. Her tall, handsome groom, Eliran Peretz, is waiting to put a ring on her finger.
A venerable Sephardic Rabbi pronounces the blessings. Her mother, Mali Houdja, is wiping her eyes.
The groom breaks the glass and recites: “If I forget thee Jerusalem….”
Tonight, Jerusalem is in no danger of being forgotten.
Cheers and laugher prevail. In the line-up to hug the bride, Adi’s cousins begin to shout: “Adi! Here’s Prof. Rivkind. Here’s Prof. Liebergall.”
The crowd parts for these precious hugs.
“And I hug Adi, too,” relates Mrs. Sofer. And I say,”This is the hug from 330,000 women and men of Hadassah. We’re all here with you tonight.”
Susanne Eberstein, First Deputy Speaker of the Swedish parliament, the Riksdag, Swedish Ambassador to Israel Carl-Magnus Nesser, and Swedish MP’s Tommy Waidelich and Gustaf Hoffstedt visited Hadassah Medical Organization on February 11 as part of a fact-finding trip to the Middle East.
“It's a pleasure and so important to see how you treat patients from all backgrounds,” said Eberstein.
They were welcomed by Hadassah Hospital Medical Director Professor Yoram Weiss who provided a short update on the research and advanced treatment at Hadassah's hospital, and accompanied by the Israel Foreign Ministry Head of the North European Desk Amir Maimon.
The delegation visited the healing gardens of the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Tower, where they also heard of the preference of Jerusalem patients to have double rooms instead of the private rooms preferred in countries like Sweden or the United States as an example of multiculturalism in action at Hadassah Medical Organization. They saw the Chagall windows, with their potent symbols of justice and peace, created for the Hadassah synagogue by the late artist Marc Chagall. In the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Ms. Eberstein and her delegation visited a two-month old Palestinian patient from Nablus who is being cared for while preparing for cardiac surgery.
Under the umbrella of the Hadassah Medical Organization’s ART-Joy-Love project in Ethiopia, Hadassah’s HIV/AIDS experts presented a four-day psychosocial workshop in Addis Ababa for the staff of five HIV/AIDS orphanages in January.
Based on years of clinical experience and educational outreach by Hadassah’s Pediatric AIDS multidisciplinary team, the workshop was facilitated by Estelle Rubinstein, Director of Hadassah’s Department of Social Work, Ahuva Yavin Arnon, a psychologist from its Pediatric Psychiatry Unit, and Prof. Dan Engelhard, head of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and the Pediatric AIDS Center at Hadassah.
Eighteen Ethiopian caregivers, including psychologists, social workers, and nurses, participated in the workshop. Collectively, they care for about 500 orphans.
Emphasizing the pivotal importance of dealing with psychosocial issues in treating children and adolescent orphans who are living with HIV, the seminar addressed the ways in which caregivers can help the children to cope with their very difficult life stories and the stigma of HIV; how to disclose an HIV diagnosis to the children; methods of building self-esteem; strategies for sex education; and dealing with behavioral problems. The workshop also focused on the needs of the caregivers, themselves, offering ideas for preventing burnout in such an emotionally challenging work environment.
Israel’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, HE Belaynesh Zevadia, took part in one of the sessions. She conveyed her deep appreciation to the Ethiopian and Israeli teams for their commitment to these children.Read more about ART-Joy-Love
Despite advances in fertility, many live with the pain of unfilled dreams of parenthood. Last week, Hadassah Medical Organization's fertility expert Prof. Ariel Revel met a large crowd of potential parents in Tel Aviv at an open meeting where he and other physicians from Hadassah along with colleagues from the Czech Republic revealed how a successful program has been able to overcome one of the common barriers in fertility: the need for egg donation.
Israel's Knesset has passed a law legalizing egg donation, but in practical terms, the supply of donor eggs in Israel is so small most Israelis cannot find a donor.
Prof. Revel has created a program where each potential parent or couple receives personalized care, including emotional support and the most advanced technology. Hadassah works together with a well-regulated Czech Republic clinic which has an abundant supply of donor eggs. The process can be coordinated with Jerusalem's Puah Institute to respect stringent Jewish religious requirements for patients who desire.
The experienced and advanced Hadassah team handles all medical and logistics issues, while providing guidance and support to the couple.
To make the process easier for those who live in Israel's populous coastal region, Prof. Revel and his staff have opened a Hadassah clinic in Tel Aviv.
Said one woman who attended the Tel Aviv open-house, "Frankly, I came to the evening with the feeling that I was joining a group of losers. But Dr. Revel made me feel that there were new possibilities and that I would receive a helping hand in undergoing a new approach to a part of my life that has been full of pain. I'm going to give it a try with Hadassah."
Armed with their instruments, the two men rush into the hospital room with the aim to help the misfortuned patient. They hover over the hospital bed and begin to perform.
They'll be starting with Hava Nagila.
Navot Ben Barak and Avshalom Eshel, representing the Haverut Organization, perform personal concerts for patients and staff at Hadassah Medical Organization twice weekly. Doctors and scientists from the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the British Journal of Psychology, the Center for the Advancement of Health and more have found music therapy can improve the effects of mental illnesses like depression and anxiety and even help reduce the amount of medications that patients require in some cases.
"We... try to make a personal connection with each patient, intuitively finding the chords that will touch them," said ben Barak.
"We also know that the staff works so hard that they appreciate musical interludes in their life-saving efforts. We hope patients will get used to this new approach and feel free to request their daily dose of harmony," said Eshel.
They will soon inaugurate a monthly musical service in the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Tower Atrium with fellow musicians.
Using a deep sequencing analyzer, Prof. Orly Elpeleg, Director of the Hadassah Medical Organization’s Department of Genetic and Metabolic Diseases, and her colleagues have determined the sequence of millions of DNA fragments simultaneously--8,000 times the capacity of the former generation of DNA sequencing machines. This has enabled Hadassah’s researchers to identify important gene mutations that cause severe metabolic diseases and to counteract their devastating effects.
In the last three years alone, Prof. Elpeleg and her team have identified 30 genes responsible for some of the most disabling--and sometimes deadly--children’s diseases, making Hadassah one of the top ten centers in the world to identify disease-causing gene mutations. For example, using deep sequence analysis, Hadassah researchers discovered a protein gene responsible for a rare form of infant paralysis affecting Jews who originally came from North Africa. When both parents pass the gene on to their child, the infant suffers muscle paralysis after an illness involving a fever. Prof. Dror Mevorach, Director of Hadassah’s Center for Research in Rheumatology and head of Internal Medicine Department B, has worked on this same protein for the past 15 years. He proposed treating these infants with a synthetic experimental drug that has proven effective in fighting a similar rare disease. The first four babies discovered to have the paralysis have been given this drug, yielding very good results.
The defective gene, carried by 1 in 66 people of North African origin, causes a defect in the protein that acts as a “brake” in the immune system to prevent endless firing against the illness. Instead, the defective gene allows the awakened immune reaction to continue, compromising the baby’s myelin (the coating of the nerves), which affects the transmission of signals from the spinal cord to the muscles of the limbs. (For further information, see the January 2013 issue of Blood.)
Cancer Survivor, Cannabis Activist, and Founder of the Beverly Hill Cannabis Club Cheryl Shuman recently visited Israel to meet with Cannabis Research Pioneer Prof. Raphael Mechoulam of the Hadassah-Hebrew University Faculty of Medicine, whose work provided the basis for the medical community’s embrace of medical marijuana (cannabis). Ms. Shuman, who was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer many years ago, credits cannabis with bringing her back from the brink of death.
“Much of our work was begun half a century ago,” says Prof. Mechoulam. His interest in cannabis was sparked after he returned from a post-doctoral fellowship at the Rockefeller Institute in New York and became interested in the intersection of chemistry and biology. “Cannabis,” he says, “was ripe for investigation.”
Fluent in a variety of European languages, Prof. Mechoulam read 19th century papers about the plant’s potential. The Israeli police gave him five kilos of high-quality Lebanese hashish that they had apprehended from a smuggler. He coined a new term, “cannabinoids” (referring to the active constituents of cannabis) and isolated first CBD, a non-psychoactive constituent which, according to research at Hadassah, reduced sugar levels in diabetes-prone mice and ameliorated effects of heart ischemia (inadequate blood supply). Then he isolated THC, the psychoactive constituent, as well as half a dozen other cannabinoids.
notes that pharmaceutical companies have been reluctant to fund clinical trials
because marijuana use is controversial and impossible to patent.
Dr. Elyad Davidson, who heads Hadassah’s Pain Clinic, does offer cannabis to his patients. He reports, however, that “we’re still pre-clinical, which means that although cannabis is being used, we’re guessing on its efficacy and safety. Pain isn’t something you can quantify, so we rely on the reliability of patient reports.”
In 2007, the first cannabis fields were sanctioned by the Israeli government. Today, 10 official growers/dealers have the permission of Israel’s Ministry of Health to plant fields of marijuana. There is, however, no standardization of the product yet. “This means that one dealer might be using leaves, while another is using blossoms, and a third, a different strain of cannabis altogether,” explains Dr. Davidson. “Certain strains and sub-strains have higher psychedelic qualities. This makes prescribing difficult.”
One Hadassah study has revealed that 85 percent of its patients found marijuana effective as an adjunct therapy for the pain associated with bone marrow transplantation. But, questions remain.For example: Does marijuana actually decrease the pain or just help a patient deal with chronic pain?
“There are now about 14,000 patients in Israel who have received government permission to take cannabis. This includes people suffering from chronic pain, the inflammation of Crohn’s disease, the spasticity of multiple sclerosis, the nausea caused by chemotherapy, the anxiety of post-traumatic stress, and the after-effects of bone marrow transplants.
Ms. Shuman came to Israel to learn about the medical marijuana industry there. Her hope is to cultivate a relationship with Israeli experts in this field and recruit them to advocate for quality medical marijuana treatment. The organization that is hosting her stay in Israel is calledTikkun Olam (repairing the world) and, according to Ms. Shuman, she and this oldest and largest marijuana-growing dispensary in Israel are dedicating their energy to repairing the world one bud of high-grade cannabis at a time. Her goal is to take Tikkun Olam’s unique model of dispensing marijuana and counseling patients international.
"Welcome! You are the first," Nira Kedar, head nurse of the the neurology department at Hadassah Medical Organization, said, with a huge smile, to Nachshon Halevy. Mr. Halevy will be the first patient to be wheeled into the new neurology department on the ninth floor of the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower. Earlier that day, the back-up systems for ventilated patients were checked, a few pegs were straightened, and some scuff marks were wiped away. Hadassah Rabbi Moshe Klein, together with Director General Prof. Avigdor Kaplan and Neurology Department Head Prof. Tamir Ben-Hur, had placed the newest Hadassah mezuzah on the tower's ninth floor portal of healing. "May Hashem (God) bless you in your everyday work of healing," said Rabbi Klein to the staff.
Mr. Halevy was one of 28 patients—some of them with ventilator in tow—to leave the four-decade-old neurology ward for this state-of-the-art facility. He had sought help at Hadassah when he found himself unable to keep one of his eyes open. It turned out that he had contracted a neural infection. "Because he has diabetes," his wife, Orit, explained, "he requires the expertise you receive at Hadassah." She noted too: "We didn't know that we would be moving into a luxurious suite. Wow! You have to feel better already just moving in here." Mr. and Mrs. Halevy, long-time Jerusalemites, are school teachers and the parents of seven children.
For Hadassah Life Member Carol Sundick, accompanying her husband, Robert, as he was moved from the old building to the tower, was a proud and historic moment. Formerly from Kalamazoo, Mich., the Sundicks now live in Jerusalem. "When you belong to Hadassah in the United States, you never think you are going to benefit yourself," she said. "Even then I dreamt of coming to Israel, but like anyone, I didn't want us to need hospital care. But when you need it, how reassuring to know that Hadassah is here! The new tower is amazing."
Eventually, the neurology department will house 36 patients, being treated for a wide variety of neurological disorders. "The private and semi-private rooms—as opposed to rooms shared by six patients—allow us to focus on patient needs," relates Prof. Ben-Hur. "The ability to prevent infection and to allow our patients total rest while still conducting high-tech monitoring will contribute to faster recovery." In addition to this sophisticated monitoring, four of the department's rooms are specifically designed for epilepsy patients and are equipped with a double monitoring system that includes both electroencephalography (EEG) and video capability.
By noon, all the patients were checked in and the neurology department was running smoothly. "We will go through an adjustment period", said Ms. Kedar, a graduate of the Henrietta Szold Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Nursing. "But it's easy to get used to something that's so wonderful."
"The clinical evaluation of consciousness in Disorder of Consciousness (DOC) patients, based on their exhibited behavior, is difficult and remains erroneous in many cases," report researchers at the Hadassah Medical Organization.
Aiming to determine the plausibility and challenges of implementing a clinical service to evaluate the consciousness level in patients suffering from (DOC), the researchers found via Functional MRI that different patients exhibited different degrees of responsiveness. They explain that recent studies demonstrate different levels of stimulus processing, as well as evidence of some level of awareness in sub-groups of these patients.
The study was composed of 11 patients (ages 11-67), who were diagnosed as being in either vegetative or minimally conscious states. Using Functional MRI, researchers evaluated auditory, language, voice familiarity, imagery, and visual responsiveness.
The authors report: In 9 patients, they found auditory-related activation; however, only in 5 of the subjects was differential activation found for language. Six patients exhibited differential response to their own name. In three patients, a response to visual stimuli was identified. In one patient, the auditory and linguistic systems were clearly activated in a hierarchical pattern and, moreover, willful modulation of brain activity was identified in the imagery test.
Lead Author of the study was Atira S. Bick, coordinator of the clinical service in Hadassah's Functional MRI Unit. The original research article, entitled "Implementing Novel Imaging Methods for Improved Diagnosis of Disorder of Consciousness Patients", appears in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences, Volume 334, Issues 1–2, 15 November 2013, Pages 130-138.
As part of a fact-finding tour emphasizing the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians, the Chief Executive of Christian Friends of the United Kingdom, Jacob Vince, along with a delegation of non-denominational Christian laymen and clergy, visited the Hadassah Medical Organization.
Dr. Gila Elinav, Director of Hadassah's HIV-AIDS Unit, updated the delegation as to the strides being made in treating HIV-AIDS at Hadassah and, particularly, Hadassah's outreach to the Palestinian medical community. Dr. Elinav briefed them about two colloquia she had organized: one with Jerusalem family physicians and the second, with West Bank hospital personnel and other doctors from the Palestinian Authority.
"Because of the taboos in discussing AIDS and the assumption that their patients wouldn't have been exposed to AIDS," relates Dr. Eliav, "Palestinian family physicians might not be looking for it."
Yet, she brings out, when patients are diagnosed on time, AIDS becomes a chronic disease and patients have the same average life expectancy as those who don't have AIDS. "We have had several cases of Arab patients arriving here with advanced disease and increased chances of mortality," she says. By the same token, she notes that she has found that Palestinian medical colleagues do not take the same precautions that Israeli physicians do to protect themselves from needle pricks or accidental cuts when working with AIDS patients.
Hadassah's AIDS unit treats 400 patients a year, with an additional 40 children being treated in the Pediatric Aids Unit. "We were consulted about a very sick Arab baby, who was born in a different hospital," said Dr. Elinav. "It turned out that the baby was HIV positive and further investigation revealed that both parents had AIDS and didn't know it."
The delegates also learned about Hadassah's sperm-cleansing program for men with AIDS, as well as the precautions taken during childbirth when delivering the baby of a woman who has AIDS--both of which have resulted in children being born free of the virus.
Broadening the delegates' perspective, Dr. Michael Wilchanski, Hadassah's British-born Director of Pediatric Gastroenterology, discussed his own near-daily interaction with Palestinian physicians, who often consult him or send seriously ill patients to the hospital for treatment.
“We have seen and heard so much about the (Middle East) conflict, that it's a relief to see a place which is an island of peace,” said a member of the David Project delegation, which visited the Hadassah Medical Organization on January 2nd.
The David Project is a Boston-based Israel advocacy organization, which educates campus activists from around North America. A key element of its educational program is the “Israel Uncovered” mission, which takes students to Israel to learn about the country firsthand. Past National Hadassah President Nancy Falchuk sits on the David Projectboard and ensured that a visit to Hadassah was on the delegates’ itinerary.
“One bus of the students, representing diverse ethnic backgrounds, arrived at Hadassah in the morning and the second, in the afternoon. Both groups toured the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower and the Chagall windows. The morning group visited the Charlotte R. Bloomberg Mother and Child Center, where the students witnessed the full array of ethnic groups among the pediatric patients. The afternoon group visited the Judy and Sidney Swartz Center for Emergency Medicine, where adults of all different ethnic groups were being treated. The morning group met Dr. Amjad Faran, a Jordanian/Palestinian resident in anesthesiology, who shared his experience as a Palestinian working in Hadassah's hospital. He told the delegates that his residency is the envy of Palestinian colleagues who are studying in other countries. “They are in good programs,” he said, “but I get to do far more than they do and have superior training.”
Dr. Faran added: “There's also an emphasis on research, even for residents, so that this will become an important part of my medical career.” Responding to the students’ questions, Dr. Faran said he had never had difficulty with patients rejecting him because he is a Palestinian, and that he is a totally integrated member of the department. Dr. Faran lives in Ramallah with his wife and child, and his only complaint is the extra time it takes him to get home.
The afternoon student group met 25-year-old Dvir Moussai, who hails from near Hebron. Mr. Moussai was injured in a terror attack when he was a teenager and treated at Hadassah. He is now a volunteer at the hospital.
Mr. Moussai explained to the students that he had over 30 operations at Hadassah to correct the damage caused by stepping on a landmine while on a cherry-picking class trip. “At the beginning, it was hard for me to share a room with Arabs or to be treated by them,” he said. “But just being in Hadassah changed the way I feel. Now I'm comfortable with everyone.”
Many of the students commented that the trip to Hadassah was reassuring. One student noted that it was “an eye opener.” Pauline Marcucci of Temple University in Philadelphia said: “I want to thank you for taking the time to show us through your beautiful and inspiring hospital, where it is very exciting to see Israel work progressively towards peace and togetherness.”
Commenting on the Phase IIa trial of NurOwn™--BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics' stem cell therapy for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)--which is being conducted at the Hadassah Medical Organization, Prof. Dimitrios Karussis, principal investigator, reports that the safety data are "impressively positive" and that the "initial indications of clinical efficacy" are cause for optimism regarding the management of ALS and the future of cell therapies for neurodegenerative diseases in general.
Prof. Karussis, Neurologist and Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Hadassah, presented some of his preliminary findings from this ongoing dose-escalating trial at the 24th International Symposium on ALS/MND in Milan, Italy. MND, Motor Neuron Disease, is the name given to a group of diseases in which the nerve cells (neurons) that control muscles undergo degeneration and die.
According to Prof. Karussis, although the final data are not yet available for publication because the trial is still ongoing, researchers have met with only minimal and transient adverse effects, even though the patients in the study were given the treatment both intrathecally (into the cerebrospinal fluid by injection into the subarachnoid space of the spinal cord) and intramuscularly, with up to double the dose of the stem cells given in the Phase I trial.
At the conclusion of the clinical trial, BrainStorm will release the complete set of data and corresponding analyses.Read more>>
Hadassah Pediatricians and Medical Clown, along with Philippine Embassy team. Seated in the center is HE Generoso D.G. Calonge, Ambassador to Israel from the Philippines.
On a rainy winter day, a group of pediatricians and a medical clown from the pediatric department of Hadassah's hospital in Mount Scopus traveled to Tel Aviv for Hadassah's annual preventive health initiative at the Philippine Embassy.
This special humanitarian endeavor, which is now in its third year, provides free vaccinations and health check-ups to children of Philippine mothers, most of whom lack medical insurance. Hadassah's pediatricians were assisted by Philippine nurses, who currently work as caregivers in Israeli nursing homes. A Philippine Embassy team arranged tables and beds for the medical examinations and prepared work stations for the nurses.
"The children were cooperative and the parents were thankful and very much appreciated the volunteer effort," relates Prof. Eitan Kerem, Chair of the Pediatrics Division at Hadassah. "With her talents and special approach, Hadassah's medical clown contributed to the success of the initiative and to the pleasant atmosphere."
The program ended with a lunch, hosted by HE Generoso D.G. Calonge, Ambassador to Israel from the Philippines.
It's a vignette of Hadassah's long history intertwining with the development of the Jewish state: recently, Jacksonville Chapter President Leah Ben-Yehuda and her husband Rabbi Eliezer paid a visit to Hadassah Medical Organization on the day before the birthday of his famous great-great grandfather of the same name, who was the founder of the Modern Hebrew language's resurrection. It also happened to be the day after Hadassah Founder Henrietta Szold's birthday.
"My grandmother, the widow of my famous grandfather, and Henrietta Szold were friends," said Rabbi Ben-Yehuda. Leah Ben-Yehuda had an intensive tour of the campus, including the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Tower, the Bloomberg Mother and Child and the Swartz Center for Emergency Medicine. Visiting the new Ethel Herzstein Heritage Center, the interactive museum of Hadassah's illustrious past, Ben-Yehuda said, "This is the just the beginning," said Ben-Yehuda.
EIN KEREM, JERUSALEM, ISRAEL —When Jacob David "Jakey" Korol of Northbrook, Illinois was thinking of a mitzvah project for his upcoming Bar Mitzvah he knew he wanted to do something in Israel.
Jakey's grandmothers were born in Israel and America. Grandma Zelda Korol from Deerfield, Chicago is a life member of Hadassah and belongs to the Ketura Group of the Hadassah Chicago-North Shore Chapter while Great Grandma Yehudit Bassrawy is a volunteer in Hadassah Hospital in Ein Kerem, Jerusalem.
Dozens of children, some in wheelchairs, came for the family's magic show on Sunday, Dec. 22 at Hadassah Hospital which included card tricks, disappearing water, and even a black rabbit in a hat.
"I feel good making sick kids feel better," said Jakey, who will also read the Torah at Robinson's Arch near the Kotel on December 26, 2013.
The Korol family passion is magic and everyone had a task. At Sunday's show at Hadassah Hospital, Jakey's dad Jack Korol, whose day job is running the Leon Korol Company which sells surplus and promotional housewares and toys, was chief magician. Brothers Sammy, 11, and Liam 8, helped prepare balloon animals for the Israeli kids, for which they'd been practicing for three months. Mom, Naomi Korol, passed out stuffed animals to the sick children. Grandmother Sara Eisenstein, also born in Israel, translated from English and a helpful mother in the audience translated into Arabic.
But most of the tricks needed little translation as "Abracadabra!" brought laughter and applause from the children.
The 2013-2014 International Masters of Public Health Program at the Hadassah-Hebrew University Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine is comprised of 28 students from 19 countries.
Represented are Albania, Cameroon, Colombia, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Israel, Kenya, Nepal, Nevis, Nigeria, Palestinian Authority, Philippines, Russia, South Sudan, Swaziland, Ukraine, Uganda, and the United States. The health professionals hail from medicine, nursing, entomology, medical journalism, biostatistics, and public health. The Pears Foundation, MASHAV, The British and American Friends of Hebrew University, TEVA, the Bonita Trust, and the Rotary Foundation are current sponsors of the program.
Kioko Kiilu, a 2007 graduate of the Hadassah-Hebrew University Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine, now Emergency Health Manager for the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS), was a first responder when the Israeli-owned Westgate Mall in Nairobi was attacked by a group of terrorists.
Read his story:
On Saturday, September 21, 2013, Mr. Kiilu received a call from the Kenyan Emergency Operation Center, telling him that there were fatalities and mass casualties at the Mall. An armed group had forced its way into the mall and attacked with hand grenades and guns. The Westgate Mall, Mr. Kiilu relates, is a popular shopping center with the diplomatic community, as well as Kenyans and foreign visitors. On an average weekend, the multi-story building has an estimated 10,000 visitors at peak times.
"The scene was terrifying at first sight," Mr. Kiilu recalls, "but as a first responder, I knew my business was to save lives." He continues: "Quickly I started stabilizing victims and evacuating them, using the ambulances that had come from all over the city. Within the first hour, we had evacuated over 60 seriously injured individuals and removed 15 bodies. In the process, the situation worsened with more gun shots being heard from within the building and we had to take cover. Shortly, a special unit from the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) arrived and we coordinated the evacuation of more people who were stuck in the mall."
Over 600 individuals were evacuated and taken straight to the hospital. Before nightfall, all systems within the KRCS disaster operation were up and running. A well-wisher gave space at the Visa Oshwal community center, where KRCS set up a command center. RFL (Restoration of Family Links) had set up an information desk, psychosocial counselors were already on site, and volunteers set up a triage center for further evacuation and recovery after the KDF secured and cordoned off the building. At close of day, one KDF unit was still inside, fighting the terrorists and trying to secure the building so that further humanitarian workers could be allowed in to carry out more evacuations.
"The Kenya Red Cross Society," Mr. Kiilu notes, "continued to lead the humanitarian work in the days that followed. I wrote situation updates for the operation and requested funding from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC), which was approved and disbursed within 24 hours."
Mr. Kiilu brings out that the KRCS' motto is: "Always there--First in, Last out (FILO)." Looking back on this mass casualty event, Mr. Kiilu says, "We remained true." He adds: "I was happy to be a part of the team that saved many lives and extend my heartfelt condolences to those who lost their loved ones. May they rest in peace."
Benson Ulo, a 2003 graduate of the International Masters of Public Health Program at the Hadassah-Hebrew University Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine, applauds his education for providing him with a “flexible think tank,” where students are equipped to shape public health care worldwide.
Having struggled to gain admittance to medical school, Mr. Ulo found himself forced to interrupt his education. He took on odd jobs at construction sites, just to survive. Three years later, he was fortunate to get a sponsor, which made it possible for him to return to academia to study public health. He subsequently received a scholarship to attend the IMPH program in Jerusalem. This was “an opportunity of a lifetime,” he says, “and has led to multiple rewards in my life.”
At international Medical Corps, his employer since 2004, Mr. Ulo says, his IMPH education has enabled him to design and implement HIV/AIDS and TB programs that have helped thousands of people, with both prevention and treatment in remote areas of his country. Mr. Ulo is currently the director of an HIV/AIDS and TB program in local prisons which, he reports, has greatly improved the health of inmates, bringing down the TB death rate from about 40 percent to zero!
Mr. Ulo shares his work experiences at international conferences and, as a result, believes he influences program design in many other countries.
Thirteen-year-old Adin had open-heart surgery at Hadassah 's hospital in Ein Kerem to replace his pulmonary valve. Read an excerpt from his grandmother's description of the family's quality experience.
"The treatment here was superb, from the caring and concern, to the professionalism of the staff,” says Josh Rochlin from Teaneck, NJ, who found himself at Hadassah Medical Organization in Ein Kerem's Center for Emergency Medicine, after the car he was driving collided with a bus. The next thing he knew he was riding in an ambulance.
Mr. Rochlin, who was in Israel to check out a potential gap-year program for one of his sons, injured his ribs, clavicle, and scapula. Although in a lot of pain, he was glad to hear that his injuries would heal without surgery. Recuperating in the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower, he noted, “Being here makes it easy to get better. I’m so impressed. Thank you, Hadassah.”
Despite the end of Jerusalem's largest winter storm, some icy roads were still closed, causing major traffic jams. In one such jam, a Hadassah nurse and a Hadassah midwife helped to bring a baby girl into the world.
It was on Road 443, which leads from Modiin to Hadassah Hospital-Mount Scopus, that Pediatric Head Nurse Dafna Cohen was stuck at one of the crossroads. She heard a police siren and saw cars pulled over to the side. Ms. Cohen could see that someone was in trouble.
Pulling her car over, too, she announced: "I'm a nurse from Hadassah Hospital. Can I help?"
The back seats of one of the cars had been lowered. The driver introduced himself as a medic. Inside, Batsheva Shoshan was in labor. Her husband, Ha'ari Shoshan, had been attempting to drive her to the hospital, but realized they wouldn't make it. This was their 14th delivery and they knew the baby was coming fast. The medic had a birthing kit and some other medical equipment. Nurse Cohen began helping, but then she had another idea: Hadassah Midwife Hanna Kasten, Deputy Head of Nursing in Hadassah's Delivery Department—and also from Modiin--might be on her way to work, too. Where was she? Cohen called Ms. Kasten and learned that she, too, was stuck in traffic, one light behind.
In the meantime, the baby was crowning. Nurse Cohen and the medic delivered a healthy baby girl.
And then they saw Ms. Kasten come running down the road.A midwife with 20 years' experience, Ms. Kasten took over. She cut the umbilical cord, delivered the placenta, and started Shoshan on intravenous fluid. Outside, the temperature was 35 degrees, so she made sure the baby was warm and that the mother was okay.
An hour and a half later, an ambulance finally made it through the ice and traffic to take Shoshan and the baby to Hadassah-Mt. Scopus. In the meantime, another pregnant woman was stuck on the road and the police recruited Ms. Kasten to help. She ascertained that the woman was okay and that she could continue to the hospital.
Ms. Kasten then drove herself to Hadassah to begin her day's responsibilities. First order of business: making sure that Shoshan and her daughter were safe and sound. "Promise me," Ms. Kasten said to the ecstatic parents, "that next time, you will come straight to the hospital so I can deliver the baby here!"
Despite 50 centimeters of snow and power outages all over the city, the Hadassah Medical Organization staff worked overtime to help 80 women give birth to their new babies.
Prof. Simcha Yagel, head of the Division of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Hadassah, relates that the staff prepared for this atypical storm by calculating how many doctors and nurses would be working and ensuring that sufficient food and medical supplies were on hand.
“There were nurses who worked 16-hour shifts because the blocked roads prevented other nurses from coming in,” Prof. Yagel said. “We also had a doctor who came in on Thursday and stayed through Sunday.”She, herself, performed five Cesarean sections on the Sunday of the storm.
Read in the San Diego Jewish World
"We had every reason to be anxious: our five-year-old granddaughter, Racheli, had a fast-growing tumor in her right arm and it needed to come out," writes a Jerusalem grandmother. Read her letter, describing the wonderful experience Racheli had as a patient at Hadassah Hospital-Ein Kerem.
The Goshen Project, which is spearheading a paradigm shift in the approach to pediatric professional training in Israel, based on the Australian model at the Royal Children's Hospital's Center for Community Child Health in Melbourne, Australia, has now formed its National Steering Committee, with Prof. Eitan Kerem, head of Hadassah's Division of Pediatrics, as Chair, and Prof. Asher Ornoy, head of the Department of Child Development and Rehabilitation at the Israel Ministry of Health, as Chief Executive Officer. It has also launched its first course for pediatricians, with attendees representing the mosaic of Israeli society—Jews and Arabs, secular and Orthodox, as well as urban and rural physicians.
Goshen had its beginnings in mid-2009 at a seminal meeting which took place in Jerusalem between two leaders in global pediatrics: Prof. David Bransky, then Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Hadassah Medical Center, and Prof. Frank Oberklaid, Director of the Center for Community Child Health at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne. Ron Finkel, President of Hadassah Australia, relates that "Frank had what David wanted---an Australian model for training pediatricians that delivered closer engagement of these physicians with the community and far better outcomes in early childhood development than were being achieved in Israel."
Prof. Bransky believed that Hadassah had to take the lead in delivering this paradigm shift and the Goshen Project, with the support of Hadassah Australia, was launched in February 2010. The first phase of the Goshen "journey" was the training of Hadassah Physician Dr. Hava Gadassi at the Center for Community Child Health in Melbourne, under Prof. Oberklaid's tutelage. Dr. Gadassi, now back in Jerusalem, will be the founding director of the National Center for Community Child Health at Hadassah Hospital-Mount Scopus.
Click to download GoshenNews,which highlights the latest developments of the Goshen Project, as well as its philosophy and visions.Two State-of-the-Art MRI Machines--Cutting-Edge Diagnosis and Research at Hadassah
The 3 Tesla Trio MRI and the 1.5 Tesla MRI, two sophisticated diagnostic tools, enable Hadassah Medical Organization physicians to examine the functioning of the body in real time.
Hadassah's MRI machines work six days each week, around the clock. Last year, a total of 16,848 examinations were carried out on patients of all ages, in comparison to 15,662 in the previous year.
Hadassah is the world's leading center in introducing new cell therapies for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) through the use of stem cells. The MRIs are playing an important role in the Phase II stem cell therapy clinical trials under the direction of Prof. Dimitrios Karussis, head of Hadassah's Multiple Sclerosis Center. With these Phase II trials investigating the optimal way of administering stem cell treatments, the MRIs enable the physicians to follow the effectiveness of the therapies. Participants undergo three baseline MRI scans before the injection of the stem cells and six monthly MRIs following the injection. One additional MRI is also performed after 12 months.
Hadassah's functional MRI machines (fMRI) are also used to observe blood-flow in the brain. With these MRIs, physicians can examine the brain function of stroke patients, for example, and determine their response to commands, such as to move a hand or retrieve a particular word.
While previously these sort of examinations were performed only on patients who were awake, Hadassah is now progressing to examinations on comatose patients, with a study headed by neurologists Dr. Shahar Arzy, MD, PhD and Dr. Netta Levin, MD, PhD.
Now that it is known that the brain is constantly active, even in comatose patients with chronic conditions, Hadassah's researchers are using the functional MRI to map brain activity over time in these unconscious patients.
"We hope to take this knowledge one step further, by using fMRI in the Emergency Room in acute conditions," reports Prof. J. Moshe Gomori, head of MRI in Hadassah's Department of Medical Imaging. Explaining that Hadassah's team has developed special mathematical techniques for analyzing the data, he adds: "We are about to publish interesting results of a study we have carried out using this system on patients with transient amnesia and those with neurological defects."
Hadassah also is a world innovator in the field of hyperpolarized MRI research, which aims to identify genetic anomalies and chemical changes during disease processes even before the disease is clinically apparent, making extremely early diagnosis possible. While at present the research is at the basic scientific stage, the ultimate goal is to attain the potential to use these techniques for human patients.
"We are proud to continue to provide our patients with the most sophisticated examinations available, while investing in innovative research," comments Prof. Gomori. "All our programs truly are translational research, aimed at transferring knowledge from the patients' bedside to the laboratory, through our MRI Unit, and back to improve patient care."
On December 4, 2013, Mme Anne Hidalgo, First Deputy Mayor of Paris, visited Hadassah Ein Kerem. She was accompanied by a large, prominent delegation that included Pierre Schapira, Head of International Relations, European Affairs and Francophonie; Remi Feraud, Mayor of the 10th Arrondissement; Pierre Aidenbaum, Mayor of the 3rd Arrondissement; Jean Marie Vernat, Chief of Staff; Karen Taieb and Patrick Klugman, Councilors of Paris. The delegation was accompanied by journalists from Paris Match and Le Monde and a photographer.
Prof. Yoram Weiss, Director of the Hadassah Ein Kerem, welcomed the delegation and summarized the philosophy and operations of the Hadassah Medical Center.
Prof. Rein explains the "A Heart for Peace " Program Prof. Jean- Jacques Rein, Director of Pediatric Cardiology, presented the "A Heart for Peace" program, a French-Israeli collaborative project, whose objective is to provide life-saving specialized care and surgery for Palestinian infants and children with congenital heart defects. Mme Hidalgo, who last visited Hadassah in 2005, reaffirmed the support of the City of Paris for this program, and noted that it has already sponsored operations for two children this year. Two prestigious receptions have been held in support of the initiative, the last of which was on October 30, 2013 in the presence of Anne Hidalgo and Pierre Schapira. Specific assistance was also offered by Pierre Aidenbaum and Patrick Klugman.
Plans had been made for the delegation to visit the Intensive Care Unit, but due to an emergency which served as a grave reminder that they were in a hospital, this visit had to be cancelled. Instead, the delegation proceeded to the Department of Pediatric Cardiology, where they were able to meet the family of a child who was scheduled to receive heart surgery.
The tour concluded at the Abbell Synagogue with its world renowned Chagall Windows where the group learned about the fascinating symbolism of these works of art.
The Hadassah Medical Organization's Goldyne Savad Institute of Gene Therapy is targeting its research to optimize the chances of fighting a wide range of cancers and neurodegenerative diseases with gene and cell therapy.
"The Institute has chosen to take the lead in this new arena of medicine," relates its director, Prof. Eithan Galun. "Our mission," he says, "is to translate the fruits of laboratory research into therapies that will directly benefit patients."
Established in 1999, The Goldyne Savad Institute houses the National Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) Center for the production of biological drugs, as well as a clinical site where these new drugs can be tested as part of Phase I and II investigations.
The Institute currently has 13 research groups with 90 investigators, whose work helps physicians treat patients suffering from diseases as varied as heart failure, cancer, and macular degeneration. These treatments include the use of viral and non-viral gene delivery systems, as well as stem cell therapy.
For example, the Institute has just completed a Phase I clinical study using gene therapy to treat locally advanced pancreatic cancer in patients whose cancer is inoperable. The unprecedented results reveal that none of the patients' cancer progressed, coupled with a significant increase in overall survival. The Institute is now moving to a Phase II clinical trial.
In another study, stem cells are being generated on an ongoing basis at the Institute's GMP facility to treat patients battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Benefiting the field of cardiology, the Institute has developed a protein therapy for acute myocardial infarction, which has proven, in unprecedented pre-clinical findings, to reduce heart failure significantly. "We hope to translate this new concept and innovative treatment from research into clinical use," Prof. Galun reports.
Many current research projects are focused on eradicating blindness and cancer, using noninvasive procedures.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This degenerative disease compromises the neuronal tissue of the retina. AMD affects approximately 30% of people over the age of 75. While current treatment protocols involve multiple administrations of intraocular injections that carry the risk of severe side effects, at the Goldyne Savad Institute, patients are being treated with infrared ultrafast femtosecond laser pulses (LGBT). Results are encouraging, Prof. Galun reports, and could "radically change the way retinal diseases are treated." This approach, he adds, delivers the treatment specifically to the site of retinal pathology, while avoiding unaffected areas--and at a low cost.
In addition, plans are underway to initiate a human embryonic stem cell (hESC) Phase I clinical trial for the treatment of AMD. Stem cells will be implanted into the retina of patients with AMD. Studies with animal models at Hadassah have already shown that stem cells can reverse the clinical condition and give animals with AMD their sight back.
Neuroblastoma. The most common extra-cranial solid cancer affecting children, it accounts for approximately 15% of cancer-related deaths in infancy. About one half of these children are found to have metastasis upon diagnosis. Despite aggressive treatment, these children with metastatic disease have a poor prognosis, with only a 20% survival rate 5 years following diagnosis. Dr. Rinat Abramovitch, one of the Institute's senior investigators, has been working with a novel drug combination in a mouse model aimed at combating this deadly cancer.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). This is one of the most prevalent and fatal neoplasms (abnormal masses) worldwide. The majority of HCC cases are preceded by chronic inflammation; however, the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms connecting inflammation with HCC development are not well defined. The Savad Institute's work is focused on studying the function of the protein, galectin-1, in a mouse model at different stages of inflammation-associated hepatocarcigenesis. The results of this study, says Prof. Galun, should contribute toward identifying new potential therapies for liver cancer.
Hepatitis C infection (HCV). This infection is a major risk factor for those with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The Institute is investigating inflammation-associated HCC in mice and has demonstrated that in the model, the Hepatitis C transgene promoted the development of this carcinoma. The Institute also aims to uncover the diagnostic and functional significance of certain DNA changes that take place at pre-cancerous stages of chronic liver inflammatory diseases and culminate in cancer.
Cervical carcinoma (CC). This cancer is associated with the human papilloma virus (HPV) in over 99% of cases. Currently, there is no available therapy to prevent CC development in HPV carriers. The Institute's investigation is focused on tumor suppression and its relation to two proteins, E6 and E67. The aim is to halt the progression from pre-cancerous neoplasm to invasive CC.
Radiation-induced xerostomia (RIX). The Institute has developed the hyper human interleukin-6 (HIL6), a protein that prevents RIX or the non-functioning of the salivary glands, following head and neck radiation for the treatment of cancer. At this time, there is no preventive therapy for this clinical condition, which can prove devastating to patients; it affects their quality of life, including dietary habits, speech, taste, and susceptibility to dental caries. The Institute's investigations, relates Prof. Galun, not only suggest that HIL6 has a therapeutic benefit, but also show how this is actually happening. The goal of further study, he adds, is to determine the mechanism by which HIL6 prevents RIX and the role of the salivary stem cells in this process.
The Institute has also developed a protein-based therapy for the prevention of hair loss following radiation, a leading cause of psychological distress. Its researchers expect it to prevent hair loss from chemotherapy as well as radiotherapy in patients undergoing cancer treatments.
Tissue regeneration. In cooperation with other investigators, Institute researchers are studying the mechanisms of tissue and organ regeneration with an eye toward developing new treatment approaches. They have been able to show that the designer protein, hyper IL-6 (HIL6) has significant regenerative effects in the liver and the kidney, as well as the salivary gland (as discussed above).
"During the last year, however," Prof. Galun comments, "we have generated, to our opinion, a breakthrough in this approach of using HIL6. We found that it has therapeutic effects in myocardial infarction. We were able to show that the administration of HIL6 could significantly reduce the infarct size, and prevent the deterioration of the heart function. This means we could reduce congestive heart failure--the most severe result of myocardial infarction. We are also now investigating the mechanism of this effect and have collected interesting preliminary results."
When "Rami," just a few days old, was found in a box on a street in Bethlehem, someone brought him to the Bethlehem Creche, a nearby orphanage. Born with a serious heart problem, he was referred to Hadassah Hospital-Ein Kerem for life-saving surgery and now is recovering in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).
The nuns at the Creche first brought the baby to Bethlehem's Caritas Baby Hospital, where physicians diagnosed a coarctation of the aorta (a narrowing of the major blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the body). Without corrective surgery, they knew he would die.
"I received a call from the cardiologist and we said we'd find space for him as soon as possible," relates Hadassah Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgeon Dr. Eldad Erez. "In a newborn, the heart is the size of his fist," he explains. "We plan out the surgery ahead of time and try to be as precise as possible."
Dr. Erez reports that, following this successful surgery, Rami's prognosis is excellent. He adds: "I'm a father of four and, as a dad, I feel particularly happy that a child who has started his life with the double obstacles of abandonment and a congenital heart defect will have a chance at a normal life."
For Regina Golan-Gerstl, a postdoctoral fellow at the Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Medicine, the fight against brain cancer has been close-up and personal: her mother died of the disease. She has now identified a genetic protein that is directly implicated in the development of the most prevalent brain cancer--glioblastoma.
Initially working in the specialty of pulmonology with Senior Hadassah Prof. Raphael Breuer, researching how cells communicate with one another, Dr. Golan-Gerstl switched to studying brain cancer when her mother became ill.
There is a mechanism called "splicing," she says, where elements of RNA (ribonucleic acid) are cut and recombined like sections of movie film. When a person is sick, Dr. Golan-Gerstl explains, the splicing mechanism doesn't work in the same way. An alternative splicing occurs, thanks to a genetic protein which becomes an activist in the development of cancer. She and her team have found that when the action of this gene is turned off, tumors in mice decrease in size. Dr. Golan-Gerstl adds that their first success has been with brain cancer.
Further investigation is taking place with other metastatic cancers, such as breast cancer. Tackling the problem with colleagues in Hadassah's Neuro-Oncology Department, Dr. Golan-Gerstl relates that they are "working on shutting it down at a molecular level."
Michael Klipper, Chair of Voices Against Brain Cancer, an organization dedicated to brain cancer research and advocacy, comments on the organization's website that "this discovery is comforting for those who are and who have been affected by this horrible disease. For one, it shows them that there are dedicated scientists and researchers who are working around the clock to put an end to this horrible disease. And two, it gives them hope that there actually will one day be a cure for brain cancer."
With 40 percent of Jerusalem's population comprised of children who come from diverse ethnic backgrounds, The Hadassah Medical Organization's Pediatrics Division, chaired by Prof. Eitan Kerem, has its challenges.
But, as Prof. Kerem brings out: "It's not a challenge for the children. Children do not understand the politics; children do not develop feelings against the other side. It's easy with them. They can also communicate without language. They can understand each other just by expression; through hand movements." The major challenge, he explains, is the parents. "Many times they are hostile and they don't have trust," he says. To deal with this situation, the hospital staff provides many activities "to help the parents see each other as human beings, despite their different backgrounds and opinions about how the Middle East conflict should be solved."
At times, Prof. Kerem receives a request from parents to change their child's hospital room because they are afraid of the other patient's family members, who are so different from their own. Palestinians, for example, are sometimes anxious about being in a room with a Jewish settler because, in their eyes, these settlers are terrorists. "We always refuse," relates Prof. Kerem, "and usually within one day, they start to build trust in each other and see one another as human beings."
With over 350 pediatric beds in Hadassah's two hills of healing in Ein Kerem and on Mount Scopus, a medical team of about 500 doctors, nurses, social workers, physical therapists, and nutritionists care for the young patients. On the one hand, Hadassah's medical professionals are involved in very sophisticated surgeries, such as bone marrow transplants and cardiac catheterizations to eradicate severe pediatric heart problems; on the other, they are very much focused on the modern community's "new epidemics," such as obesity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and learning and behavioral problems.
Because of the high degree of inbreeding among some populations of Jerusalem, Hadassah's pediatrics department sees a lot of genetic disease, generating an emphasis on genetic research. The goal is to identify new genes in order to understand the mechanism by which disease is caused and to develop a treatment for it. One therapy employed is "gene modifier treatment," which either targets the genetic defect itself or the mechanism that causes the gene to become defective.
"On the one hand," says Prof. Kerem, "we are touching the future. On the other, we are trying to prevent the sicknesses of society by promoting behavioral modifications and healthy child development."
Hadassah is proud of its pediatric collaborations with Australia, France, Denmark, Germany, Italy, and the United States. Prof. Kerem notes that Hadassah is known for its curiosity and creativity; for its ability to ask questions and provide innovative answers. In many areas, Prof. Kerem relates, Hadassah's research has paved the road for other researchers around the world which, in turn, led to new therapies. One example relates to a form of cystic fibrosis (CF), a genetic disease, in which there is a defect in the regulation of a certain protein's production. Ten years ago, Hadassah analyzed the ability of certain antibiotics to bypass a premature command that interfered with the production of this protein. Following Hadassah's success at proving the merits of this concept, an American company took the strategy a step further by identifying a less toxic compound to accomplish the same goal. This compound is now being studied internationally in 34 countries to treat CF patients who have this type of genetic mutation.
Prof. Kerem was born at Hadassah, as were his three daughters and five grandchildren.
He grew up among Holocaust survivors. "I felt like I was the new generation that would build a new country for the Jewish people," he said. Prof. Kerem's wife, Bat Sheva, is a professor of genetics at the Hebrew University, where she runs a research laboratory. She does basic research on cystic fibrosis and collaborates with her husband, who is engaged in clinical research in CF. The Kerem's older daughter is a child psychologist, whose specialty is rehabilitation psychology; her husband, a horse farmer, helps children through horseback riding therapy. The middle daughter is also a child psychologist and their youngest is looking into studying medicine.
Asked about the benefits of the new Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower, Prof. Kerem noted that "it is a milestone in the history of Jerusalem, for it changes the way we can treat our patients." He explains: "The new pediatric surgery operating rooms will enable us to perform complex heart, neurological, orthopedic, and bowel surgeries that we were not able to do before. We have the capability; we have the knowledge; we know the techniques. Now with this new facility we will be able to give the gift of life to children and their parents that we could not previously give."
Commemorating the United Nations’ International Day for the Prevention of Violence Against Women, nurses and social workers at the Hadassah Medical Organization initiated a project in the maternity ward to encourage women to speak up and put an end to abusive relationships.
The project, undertaken in collaboration with the Department of Social Work at Hadassah's hospital in Ein Kerem, is aimed at leading women to see the birth of a new baby as an opportunity to end the abusive situations they find themselves in, rather than a reason to remain in an abusive relationship. The nurses and social workers are identifying women in distress and connecting them to resources that can help.
Large banners have been hung on the walls of the
maternity ward, delivery rooms, and neonatal departments with the message, "Birth is an opportunity for new beginnings - you and your children have the right to life without violence."
Chief Hadassah Midwife Nava Braverman notes, "When I was the Director of the Center for Women's Health at Hadassah, it was impossible not to address the problem of violence against women as an integral part of a variety of health problems, especially after the World Health Organization recognized the problem of violence as a medical problem.”
She adds: “We have started encouraging teams to ask women patients routinely if they've experienced violence. We have found that women don't resent this intrusion, but welcome questions and concern.”
The Hadassah School, comprised of inpatients of the Hadassah Medical Organization, has launched a new code of ethics for its multicultural student population of all ages.
Operating out of the Pediatric Unit at Hadassah's Hospital in Ein Kerem, the school is open to all children who are hospitalized there, regardless of age or length of hospitalization. The school’s multicultural staff includes teachers, teaching assistants, and volunteers, both Jewish and Arab, as well as religious and secular. The school aims to provide the students with the best quality of life possible and to aid in their recovery.
With the intention of outlining a set of values that would provide a quality environment for all children, regardless of culture or background, Director Edna Pinchover led a campaign, together with a multidisciplinary special committee, to create a code of ethics for the school. Highlighting the central goal of maintaining professionalism, integrity, and excellence, the code addresses issues such as ensuring safety, respect, and self-esteem for the students; encouraging positive behavior among students and staff; and enhancing faith among colleagues and cooperation within the multicultural staff. The code also encourages self-evaluation on the part of the staff and ongoing dialogue during times of conflict.
In addressing the staff at the launch, Member of Knesset Amram Mitzna, Chair of the Knesset Education, Culture, and Sport Committee, noted: “Being able to uphold the code, combining education and schooling at a hospital for children and families in distress, for whom education is not always on their minds, requires you, the teachers and staff, to be both flexible and sensitive. You are an integral part of this hospital; you don’t just educate the children, but are a part of their healing and recovery. You enable them to return to their schools faster and acclimate to everyday life more seamlessly. I have only praise for your important work.”
Thanks to the Dental Wellness Trust, founded by Hadassah United Kingdom Trustee Dr. Linda Greenwall, an innovative, supervised tooth brushing program has been taking place in Khayelitsha, South Africa since last April, involving 600 school children.
A follow-up conference last month in South Africa provided an opportunity to assess the program’s strategy and progress in promoting good oral health among the country’s most vulnerable children. Dr. Alon Livny of Hadassah’s School of Dental Medicine was one of the presenters. Following the conference, he and Dr. Greenwall led an oral health screening program for the children. Dr. Livny is also leading the major research on the supervised tooth brushing program in Khayalitcha, a township near Cape Town. Plans are in the works to extend the study to reach 1200 children in 8 schools in South Africa. The study model is based on the research being done at Hadassah among Arab and Jewish school children.
Last August, the Dental Wellness Trust, a London-based charity which promotes dental wellness for less fortunate communities in the UK and abroad, co-hosted an Oral Health Conference in Cape Town, together with the University of the Western Cape. The conference brought together key oral health stakeholders and offered an opportunity to share ideas, clinical experience, and research. The participating stakeholders all agreed it was high time to address this forgotten area of the health sector, which has been on the back burner because existing dental health care facilities are preoccupied with emergency tooth removal, rather then preventive care.
“What we discovered,” explains Dr. Greenwall, “is that the program has far-reaching effects for the children, the teachers, the parents, and the wider community. It has offered inspiration to others, who see that this program is about more than the dental health of these children; that there is also the sense of accomplishment and affirmation for those involved because they see that they have made a difference in the lives of the kids and the wider community. As a result of this program, there is better communication between teachers and kids, parents and teachers, and kids and their parents. Cleaning their teeth with pride and joy and a song in their hearts has given the kids great satisfaction and happiness in a job well done.” For more information, see dentalwellnesstrust.org.
Prof. Orly Elpeleg, head of the Department of Genetic and Metabolic Diseases at the Hadassah Medical Center, has been awarded the KKL-JNF’s 2013 Samuel and Paula Elkeles Outstanding Scientist in Medicine Prize.
"Every successful research project needs partners,” Prof. Elpeleg noted in receiving the prize, “so I would describe this as our rather than as my research.” She explained: “In the 1980s, there were three categories of children's diseases: infectious diseases, cancerous diseases, and all the rest, which were largely ignored in the textbooks, so I decided to research them. We were looking for disease-infected genes, which was sort of like looking for a specific carp in the ocean. To date, we have discovered 30 such genes, findings that have enabled breakthroughs in treating various children's diseases.”
Prof. Yaakov Naparstek, Executive Deputy Director General of Research and Academics at Hadassah, thanked KKL-JNF and the Elkeles family for awarding the prize. "It is my firm belief that biomedical research should be conducted at medical centers like Hadassah,” he said, “where it is possible to go from the research bench to the patient's bedside, and vice-versa. There are those who think that doctors who are also research scientists are a dying breed, but at Hadassah Hospital, we feel that this is critical to the future of medical research. Dr. Elpeleg's success proves just how important this is."Read more at kkl.org
Israeli researchers, led by Dr. Asher Salmon, then Senior Oncologist at the Hadassah Medical Center, developed a blood test that reveals it is possible to predict the presence of harmful BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations in otherwise healthy women using a novel technology called gene expression profiling. Women with a mutation in their BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene have a significantly increased risk for developing breast or ovarian cancer. For many of those at risk, the disease may develop at an early age.
"This novel technology aims to provide a layer of information regarding the cell functionality aspect of BRCA mutations that could greatly enhance the doctor's ability to identify high-risk carriers," explains Dr. Salmon. With gene expression profiling, researchers can search for genes that have the potential to distinguish healthy BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers from noncarriers.
The only other test available to detect these mutations is full gene sequencing; however, as Dr. Salmon points out, it is "expensive, time consuming and, in many cases, lacks clear and decisive information for making a clinical decision." Many times, it cannot be determined if the mutation is neutral or harmful.
New evidence has revealed that cells with a mutation in one of the two copies of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes display a distinct gene expression profile when they are exposed to elements that cause DNA damage, such as radiation. Knowing this, Dr. Salmon and his team collected white blood cells from the blood samples donated by 17 healthy women who had a mutated BRCA gene. They cultured the cells and then exposed them to radiation. Next, they extracted the RNA from these cells and compared it to the RNA from identically treated white blood cells from 10 healthy women who did not carry the BRCA gene. The researchers found that approximately 1500 genes were differentially expressed between carriers and noncarriers. They then narrowed this list to 18 genes that were the most significantly differentiated between the two groups of women.
They validated their results with another two groups of women--40 carriers of the BRCA mutation and 17 noncarriers. Their validation model showed a sensitivity of 95 percent.
According to Dr. Salmon, the test can reveal whether a patient carries a harmful mutation regardless of the specificity of the mutation. "In societies where gene sequencing is not feasible, this test can substitute for it with a very high accuracy rate," Dr. Salmon relates.
Hadasit, Hadassah's technology transfer arm, identified the economic and scientific potential of this new development, protected it with a patent, and commercialized it to Biogene, a daughter company of Micromedic, which is working on developing a diagnostic kit based on the research.
The Israeli research team--which included Prof. Tamar Peretz, Director of Hadassah's Sharrett Institute of Oncology, and physicians from Tel Hashomer Hospital, Bar Ilan University, Barzilai Medical Center, and Ariel University Center--reported their findings in Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. "In summary," the researchers write, "our study provides insight into the biologic effect of heterozygous mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes in response to ionizing irradiation-induced DNA damage. We also suggest a set of 18 genes that can serve as a prediction and screening tool for BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutational carriers by using easily obtained lymphocytes."
Dear Hadassah Family,
This year, the unique convergence of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving has special meaning for the three people who have made nearly miraculous recoveries following a devastating stroke, a heart attack and a hit-and-run accident. I say "nearly miraculous," because all of them really owe their lives to Hadassah’s superb medical teams.
Tonight, as we light the first Hanukkah candle, they will be rejoicing in the miracle of their recoveryand, whilethey may not actually be celebrating Thanksgiving, they will be filled with gratitude for the medical treatment they received from our skilled staff. Here are the stories of the miracles of our making:
A half hour after one of our professors arrived at work, he collapsed in his office in the department he had recently headed. A doctor passing by immediately called the resuscitation team, who literally brought him back from “that other world.” Half of his body was paralyzed and he couldn’t speak. In the Emergency Room, a CT scan of his head confirmed that he had suffered a stroke; catheterization revealed a blockage in one of the main arteries of his brain. In a four-hour procedure, Prof. Jose Cohen, Head of our Endovascular Neurosurgery Unit, and our talented neuro-radiology team, inserted several stents into this very narrow artery--one to clear the blockage and another to prevent further damage. I went to visit him soon after the operation only to discover he had already been released. Then I called him on his cell phone and learned he was already home --and that he had driven there himself.
Another professor, a former head of a unit, collapsed on the treadmill during his daily workout at the Hebrew University gym. Within five minutes, the Magen David Intensive Care ambulance arrived and the paramedics began treating him for cardiac arrest. In a procedure known as therapeutic hypothermia, Dr. Arthur Pollak, Director of our Intensive Cardiac Care Unit, and his colleagues immediately reduced the patient's body temperature significantly to help prevent further damage. Two days later, when his temperature was brought back to normal, he was clearly functioning well. He was released from Hadassah four weeks later after undergoing open heart surgery and has resumed his normal routine, including teaching in our Medical School.
A third professor, an Israel Prize winner, is alive today because he had the “good fortune” to be brought to our Trauma Unit after being hit by a truck while riding his bicycle with his son. When he arrived, his condition was clearly very serious and he was rushed to the operating room where he underwent very complex surgery to repair the damage to his body. He was then transferred to our General Intensive Care Unit, where he recovered sufficiently to begin rehabilitation. I inquired about his condition and was told he is doing well. I am sure he is looking forward to returning to academic life and bicycling with his children once again.
I can state with reasonable certainty that these three men--and many others --would not have recovered without Hadassah. Hadassahmade those miracles possible.
We are currently engaged in another type of recovery equally challenging. We are negotiating an agreement with the government of Israel to ensure that our Medical Center will continue to function as a center of medical excellence. The framework is already in place and I am optimistic that the Recovery Plan will be finalized by the end of the year. This is a tripartite agreement between the Government, the Hadassah Medical Organization and, of course, our owners--Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America.
As complex and as difficult as these discussions have been, I know for a fact that the implementation of the agreement and our Recovery Plan will be even more so. To be effective, we have to cut expenses, streamline our systems and increase our income. And all this cannot happen without the agreement of Hadassah's unions.
The road ahead will be long and demanding, filled with many potential obstacles and possibly even land mines. Yet, I believe our doctors, nurses and employees are ready to contribute to the recovery effort; that they are prepared to give up part of their salaries and lay off some of their staff to make this possible.
It may be Hanukkah, but we are not relying on miracles. Just as we have made Hadassah a world-class medical center, so we have to save our hospital by ourselves, investing all our energies to ensure it continues to provide outstanding medical care and to conduct superlative research.
I am proud of the miracles our staff perform every day on both our campuses, of the cutting-edge research that is being carried out throughout our Medical Center and of the outstanding education and guidance we are providing to the next generation of physicians. Most of all, I am determined that--together with you and all who hold Hadassah dear--we will assure that Hadassah continues to be the finest hospital in Israel for decades to come.
May you and your families have a joyous Hanukkah and a festive Thanksgiving, celebrating both the lives Hadassah has saved and the miracles that together we have made possible.
Avigdor Kaplan, PhD
"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."Watch more on the Israeli involvement in Typhoon Haiyan medical response
Attending the Bar Mitzvah of a boy whose mother's life he helped to save while she was pregnant with him, and being at the wedding of a woman he has treated since she was an infant are two of Prof. Eitan Kerem's most recent emotion-packed experiences as the Chair of the Pediatrics Division at the Hadassah Medical Organization.
It was a very difficult pregnancy, Prof. Kerem recalls. She had almost died, but instead Hadassah's team was able to save her life and deliver a healthy baby via Caesarean section. The new mother spent two weeks in Hadassah's intensive care unit after the birth, but she went home healthy!
The new bride, who has cystic fibrosis, has overcome many medical challenges through the years, Prof. Eitan Kerem relates. He remembers when she was born. As a baby, she was very sick, he says. She received her nutrition through a tube that led directly into her stomach. When she turned 12, Prof. Kerem says, she announced that she wanted to eat by herself. Gradually, she began to do just that and, a year later, her tube was removed. The girl had worried that no one would ever want to marry her because she was so sick, but Prof. Kerem told her that "you shouldn't think like that; you should think that, of course, everyone would want to marry someone who has faced so many challenges and made it."
At the wedding, the bride's parents thanked Hadassah for the special, comprehensive care their daughter received. Without this dedicated care, they said, "we do not think we would be standing under the chuppah today."
"We have a saying in Judaism," Prof. Kerem notes, "that 'If you save one life, it is as if you save the entire world.' I feel fortunate that I get to do it and feel this way so often."
When 12-year-old Dennis immigrated to Israel from the Ukraine, he was already sick and in need of a bone marrow transplant. His life was saved at Hadassah, thanks to a bone marrow donor from Germany. Now 18 years old, Dennis has joined the army.
He could have chosen not to go into a combat unit because, as an only child, according to Israeli law, he need not serve as a combat soldier.
In fact, he required his mother's permission to enter a fighting unit. Both Dennis and his mother, however, were in agreement about this commitment. As his mother said, "After what Israel and Hadassah did for us," we need to give back."
"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:
In the presence of Belgium Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Didier Reynders, the Jules Bordet institute of Brussels and Hadassah Medical Organization today ratified an agreement of collaboration in healthcare, medical education, clinical research and hospital management. Jules Bordet Institute is Belgium's only hospital dealing exclusively with cancer. Joint research with Hadassah has already begun in breast cancer and pediatric oncology, with other fields to follow soon.
Representing Hadassah Medical Organization, HMO Deputy Director responsible for research Yaakov Naparstek said, "In signing business agreements, there's always the feeling that one side is getting more than the other. In contrast, when you sign an agreement to share information, you both enjoy the growing reservoir of knowledge."
"This is a very emotional experience for me," said Foreign Minister Reynders. "There isn't a more meaningful way to cooperate than treating breast cancer and cancer in children. Hadassah is also a bridge for peace. Working together, these two great hospitals are finding ways to add to the betterment of humanity."
Speaking for the Jules Bordet Institute, Professor Maurice Sosnowski, Head of the Department of Anesthesiology and President of Hadassah International Belgium said,
The ceremony took place in the Abbell Synagogue, home of the Chagall Windows. The delegation toured the hemo-oncology ward and laboratories for gene therapy.Watch on Shalom TV
Read in The Jerusalem Post
When Habjouka returned to Hadassah Hospital the following week to have her baby, Dr. Aboodia was on hand to deliver her son. Debbie Levine, a member of the National Board, and Hadassah Member Mickey Schnitzer, who are also from Texas and were visiting the hospital, met up with Habjouka at the hospital. They vowed to meet next at an exhibit of Habjouqa's photography in Houston in the future.Al Jazeera photographer Tanya Habjouqa, from Texas, went to Hadassah Medical Organization recently to shoot for a special program on medicine for the media outlet. Among the doctors she photographed was Hadassah's Dr. Morisha Aboodia.
"It's the best thing to do in medicine; it's fulfilling, fascinating, challenging, and rewarding," says Dr. Yoram Maaravi, the Hadassah Medical Organization's Director of Geriatric Rehabilitation, in describing his career as a geriatrician at Hadassah's Hospital on Mount Scopus.
Proud to be a 10th generation Jerusalemite, Dr. Maaravi decided to become a doctor when he was in the third grade and read some books about physicians. "I was captivated by the characters," he said. And that's when he knew what he wanted to be.
Initially, Dr. Maaravi served as an army physician. When he reached the age of army-mandated "retirement," he found himself in search of a new specialty. Dr. Maaravi ended up choosing endocrinology and internal medicine, but he found his true niche in geriatrics.
Why is geriatrics so special to him?
Dr. Maaravi travels around the world "nonstop," whether it is to Dallas or South Korea, to tell his colleagues abroad about Hadassah's geriatric model, through which geriatricians are the conductors of an elderly patient's care.
The Hadassah model begins with a Geriatric Emergency Program--the first such program in the world. When an elderly patient comes to Hadassah's Emergency Room, a geriatrician is called to evaluate him. "It's important that the elderly be treated by people who understand their diseases and complexities," Dr. Maaravi explains.
Dr. Maaravi sites the example of an 85-year-old man who comes to a hospital emergency room after having fallen during a trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night. The physician determines that the patient has a broken leg. In a typical hospital emergency room, he says, the patient would be given orthopedic surgery, sent to rehabilitation, and then be returned home. Because of the Geriatric Emergency Program at Hadassah Hospital-Mount Scopus, however, the scenario is very different. The physician in the ER immediately contacts a geriatrician when the elderly person first arrives at the ER. The geriatrician comes to the ER to speak with the patient to determine why the man fell. He identifies the various problems that could have caused the fall--checking the patient's eyesight, investigating whether, perhaps, he has the beginnings of Parkinson's disease. He will ask the man why he got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and question him as to whether he is on a diuretic or has a prostrate problem. Following this diagnostic workup, the geriatrician will treat each problem and if not eliminate it, he will at least improve the clinical situation for the patient.
By the same token, a geriatrician understands that the aging process brings with it certain differences in the manifestation of a disease. As Dr. Maaravi explains, pneumonia, for example, will often present as confusion in the elderly, rather than with a cough as is typical in younger patients.
Through its special geriatric program, Hadassah collaborates closely with programs in the community for the elderly. "If I am able to prevent a patient from being admitted to the hospital and instead have him treated properly within the community, I am very happy," says Dr. Maaravi.
Dr. Maaravi's vision is that "we take steps to improve care of the elderly worldwide." To that end, he wants to recruit more people to train as geriatricians and work in geriatrics. He is now also working on founding a Geriatric Education Center with the goal of educating more physicians about how to care for the elderly better, whatever their specialty.
Current emergency services do not have the proper set up for elder care, he points out, "and without the proper set-up, you can't succeed." With a program like Hadassah's, however, Dr. Maaravi reports, elderly patients are being readmitted much less to the ER and their overall functioning in the long run is improved.
For many years, Hadassah's Geriatric Emergency Program was the only one in the world.
For the last 23 years, Hadassah has been involved in the Geriatric Longitudinal Study of Aging. The study follows elderly people who were born in the same year. Every five years, the researchers contact them and investigate such factors as their medical history, performance on cognitive tests, quality of life, as well as the effect of post-retirement work and volunteering on their overall well being. The study has revealed that those who keep working, whether as a volunteer or paid worker, are doing significantly better.
Hadassah is also collaborating with a neuroimmunology laboratory at Harvard Medical School, where one of Hadassah's geriatricians is now researching a vaccine for Alzheimer's disease. The plan, Dr. Maaravi relates, is to begin a new, large-scale study of at least 1,000 individuals who are 90 years of age and older to determine how their genetic profiles relate to the development of certain diseases.
Thinking about Hadassah's support around the world, Dr. Maaravi recalled an incident while he was in Boston for a conference. He and some colleagues went to a coffee shop for lunch. At the entrance sat an elderly woman at a small table, asking for donations to Hadassah. When he introduced himself as Hadassah physician, "she almost burst into tears." I felt like she was family," Dr. Maaravi says.
"I admire the dedication of the Hadassah people who are so far away," he notes. "They don't always know exactly what we do. They don't always know how important it is to us what they do. In my view, this is our oxygen--knowing there is such a large body of people that is so dedicated in their support of our work here."
"The time I spend in the corridors of healing at the Hadassah Medical Center never fail to inspire me," relates Hadassah's National President Marcie Natan. Every week, Mrs. Natan receives inquiries from all over the world, asking if, perhaps, individuals suffering from various illnesses should seek help in Israel at Hadassah. Just recently, Hadassah's Air Ambulance Service, created by Pilot/Intensive Care Specialist Prof. David Linton, picked up a Romanian man who had been electrocuted on a sightseeing train while on vacation in Moldavia.
On a recent visit, Mrs. Natan says, she learned that Hadassah's air ambulance was picking up three other patients--from Switzerland, Spain, and Hungary. Individuals from England, Kiev, and American tourists who were visiting Egypt have also been brought to Israel recently for treatment, as was a government minister from one of Israel's neighboring Arab countries.
Mrs. Natan brings out that in the book, Start-Up Nation, the authors link Israel's extraordinary high-tech success to the drive to consistently re-evaluate what is being done; to change protocols to do better next time. Ideas, they say, are shared among all employees, with little concern for hierarchy. Mrs. Natan says she witnesses this perspective in operation at Hadassah's hospitals all the time.
For the past 20 years, every student in Hadassah's medical school has participated in a two-week trauma course after finishing his sixth year; as a result, there are almost 3,000 Hadassah graduates practicing medicine around the world who have been trained to treat blast trauma victims and handle triage during a mass casualty event.
In addition, many others have received training at Hadassah Medical Organization or from Hadassah physicians who traveled to medical centers abroad and shared their expertise. Following the bombing during the Boston Marathon, for example, Hadassah's protocol was used to treat the victims since some of the medical personnel had learned the system from their colleagues at Hadassah.
Hadassah's trauma course--which culminates in a mass casualty drill in Jerusalem, involving the police, Home Front Command, Air Force, and Emergency Medical Service-- is the "only one of its kind in the world," relates Prof. Avi Rivkind, head of the Hadassah Medical Center's Trauma Unit and Emergency Medicine.
"Unfortunately," says Prof. Rivkind, "my 'specialty' is in terror activities, mass casualty, and blast trauma." Prof. Rivkind, after receiving his medical education in Jerusalem, participated in fellowships in Maryland and California before returning to Hadassah to open the first Trauma Unit in Israel.
The severity of people's injuries and the condition of these patients when they arrived in the emergency room pushed Hadassah's surgeons to invent new techniques and procedures. "With sweat, tears, and blood, we learned," Prof. Rivkind notes. As he explains: "We are fighting with the devil, so we have to create some 'tricks' that maybe even the devil doesn't know." For example, they developed various gadgets and methods to stop bleeding and improve respiration. They used NovoSeven, a drug approved for hemophiliacs, to save the life of a 15-year-old trauma victim, who was bleeding profusely.
"The Hadassah spirit," relates Prof. Rivkind, "comes from a combination of commitment, Judaism, Jewish tradition, devotion, a role model of previous generations of doctors, and our families. The Hadassah spirit is a DNA."
The son of Holocaust survivors and the progeny of a grand rabbi, Prof. Rivkind says he carries on his shoulders a heavy weight of Jewish history and values which dictates "that there should never ever be any discrimination." It is "torah, gemilut chasadim (deeds of loving kindness) and the spirit of Hadassah which together help me personally to treat patients."
A strong belief that "deep in their hearts, even in the worst situation, all patients want to stay alive," leads Prof. Rivkind to persevere in saving a life beyond when many other physicians would give up. As he expresses, "I believe we should do everything, everything to save a person's life."
Taking an objective look at Hadassah's success in saving victims of trauma, Prof. Rivkind and his colleagues conducted a study of their trauma patients from the last 10 years, comparing Hadassah's survival rate to those of 51 Level One trauma centers in the United States. The results reveal that for severely injured patients, the mortality rate is about 11.5 percent at Hadassah; in the US, it is 19.5 percent. Overall mortality of trauma victims at Hadassah was 2.1 percent; in the US, it was 6.7-7.6 percent. "The difference between us and the American trauma system," Prof. Rivkind comments, "is, I think, that the chairmen of the departments are not hands-on in the treatment of trauma patients." At Hadassah, he believes, "the involvement of senior people in the treatment of patients, together with our experience and knowledge, improves the success rate. Hadassah's results have been published in the World Journal of Surgery."
In a personal message to the people abroad who support Hadassah, Prof. Rivkind says: "Help us; we need your help. We here are an excellent representative of the Jewish people, so help us to represent you."
Her father loved technical innovation. Her mother was more devoted to traditional ways of doing things. In turn, naming the new Caroline and Joseph Gruss Surgical Wing of the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Tower, with its high tech operating theaters and welcoming family rooms was a perfect fit, said Dr. Evelyn Gruss Lipper, speaking for the Gruss family.
Dr. Gruss Lipper , her husband Dr. William T. Speck and nephew Joshua Gruss took part in the dedication ceremony on the Ein Kerem Campus of Hadassah Medical Organization together with Hadassah Medical Director Professor Yoram Weiss and Deputy Director General Dr. Yuval Weiss.
"The partnership of your family, and your generosity, me'dor le dor, from generation to generation, has provided our physicians with the most advanced tools to use their vocation to heal all the sick who come to the doors of our great Medical Center," said Hadassah Offices in Israel Director Audrey Shimron, speaking on behalf of Hadassah National President Marcie Natan.
Dr. Gruss Lipper, a pediatrician and an Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, said her parents "would be very proud of Hadassah with its technology and safety in work." Professor Yoram Weiss pledged that the Hadassah staff would bring the dedication needed to complement the advanced facility.
Dr. Michael Oberhuber represented the Beracha Foundation, which, established in 1971, provides aid to Israel. He remarked that coincidentally both Beracha in Hebrew and the family name “Gruss” in German mean “greetings” and that Hadassah Hospital preceded the Geneva Convention in 1949 by decades—providing humanitarian care for all.
Joseph Gruss, a banker, was born in 1903 in Lvov, Poland, the youngest of seven children. He married attorney Czechoslovakian born Caroline Zelaznik. They were in the US on business when borders were closed. Much of their family, including their first-born child, perished in the Holocaust. Mr. Gruss founded an investment trading company in New York. He and Caroline had two more children, Dr. Evelyn Gruss Lipper, M.D. and Martin D. Gruss
Representing the Gruss's grandchildren, Joshua Gruss said he "liked to think of his grandparents looking down, seeing their daughter and grandson in Jerusalem, and thinking 'what a legacy' they had left."
With Prof. Yoram Weiss
During her visit to Israel as part of the Texas Economic Development Mission, First Lady Anita Perry toured the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem where she received an in-depth briefing from Prof. Yoram Weiss, Medical Director of Hadassah Hospital-Ein Kerem in the Shock Trauma Center. A nurse by profession, Mrs. Perry was especially interested in his description of how Hadassah handles mass casualty events.
She then met with Dr. Polina Stepensky, a specialist in pediatric bone marrow transplantation, who escorted her through the Department of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, where she visited with several young patients and their mothers. Hadassah is the only hospital in the greater Jerusalem area where children can receive a bone marrow transplant, which could potentially save their lives.
Mother and Child Center
During her visit to Israel as part of the Texas Economic Development Mission, First Lady Anita Perry toured the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem where she received an in-depth briefing from Prof. Yoram Weiss, Medical Director of Hadassah Hospital-Ein Kerem in the Shock Trauma Center. A nurse by profession, Mrs. Perry was especially interested in his description of how Hadassah handles mass casualty events.
In the lobby of the Charlotte R. Bloomberg Mother and Child Center, the First Lady enjoyed a few playful moments with Afik and Ro'ee , the three-month-old twin sons of Chana and Shuki Ganot-Admanit of Jerusalem. She then met with Dr. Polina Stepensky, a specialist in pediatric bone marrow transplantation, who escorted her through the Department of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, where she visited with several young patients and their mothers. Hadassah is the only hospital in the greater Jerusalem area where children can receive a bone marrow transplant, which could potentially save their lives.
Pediatric Hematology and Oncology
During her visit to Israel as part of the Texas Economic Development Mission, First Lady Anita Perry toured the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem where then met with Dr. Polina Stepensky (left), a specialist in pediatric bone marrow transplantation, who escorted her through the Department of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology. They are pictured with fifteen-month-old Loujine, who is recovering from a bone marrow transplant, and her mother Iman from Bethlehem. Hadassah is the only hospital in the greater Jerusalem area where children can receive a bone marrow transplant, which could potentially save their lives.
Earlier in her visit, the First Lady met with Prof. Yoram Weiss, Medical Director of Hadassah Hospital-Ein Kerem in the Shock Trauma Center. A nurse by profession, Mrs. Perry was especially interested in his description of how Hadassah handles mass casualty events.
Thanks to a wide range of sophisticated diagnostic and monitoring equipment, innovative treatment options, and a dedicated multidisciplinary team with an impressive success rate, the Hadassah Medical Organization's Comprehensive Epilepsy Center continues to draw increasing numbers of patients from throughout Israel and abroad.
Adult and pediatric neurologists, neurosurgeons, psychiatrists, neuropsychologists, radiologists, nuclear medicine experts, nurses, nutrition specialists, and researchers help patients of all ages to navigate this common, but complex disorder called epilepsy. With the right treatment, 70 percent of patients with epilepsy become seizure free and are able to lead completely normal lives. Many patients who continue to suffer from seizures despite medical therapy can be helped through surgical procedures.
In 2012, 623 adults were treated at Hadassah's Epilepsy Clinic within the Center and approximately 900 other individuals with less serious epileptic conditions were seen in the general Neurology Clinic. During 2012, 100 adult and 74 pediatric patients were hospitalized in the Center for Video‐EEG monitoring, where the electrical activities of the brain are recorded for a prolonged period of time while simultaneously video recordings are made of the patient's clinical manifestations. In this way, the physicians gain a better understanding of where the seizure originates in the brain and can then decide on an appropriate surgical treatment.
One patient success story concerns a 48-year‐old former truck driver, who suffered from drug‐resistant, almost daily seizures. He underwent invasive Video‐EEG monitoring, followed by resective surgery a few months later, where the area in the brain identified by EEG monitoring as responsible for the seizures is removed. Nearly 10 months post-surgery, he had only experienced four episodes of seizures--all of them during sleep at night.
Thanks to the diagnostic, surgical, and follow‐up rehabilitation services at the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, this man's quality of life has improved greatly. While before treatment he could never be left alone and was unable to leave his house except for medical purposes, he is now no longer dependant on family members for daily activities. He is even able to travel and visit relatives and friends and has returned to his previous hobby of cooking.
Another patient whose quality of life has been dramatically improved is a 34 year‐old woman who had been suffering from epilepsy since the age of 19. Her epilepsy had developed due to a brain cyst. Through Video-EEG monitoring, the Center's specialists located the focus of her seizures in the vicinity of the cyst. Since her resection and the removal of the cyst, the woman has been free of seizures.
To advance knowledge of brain disorders in general and epilepsy in particular, as well as to enhance understanding of the human brain's normal function, the multidisciplinary specialists at the Center conduct ongoing clinical trials and research studies. For example, Center researchers are investigating the safety and efficacy of new diagnostic procedures and approaches to treatment. They are also conducting observational studies of patterns in disease progression and interactions of medications with patients treated at the Out‐Patient Clinic, using a comprehensive database that they developed. In addition, the Center is also involved in an international, multi‐center industry‐initiated Phase III clinical trial of intra‐nasal administration of midazolam for treatment of seizure clusters.
For those patients with Psychogenic Non‐Epileptic Seizures (PNES)--seizures that are caused by the impact of thoughts and feelings on brain function--the Center has begun employing EEG monitoring as part of an experimental treatment strategy. This particular type of seizure is most challenging to treat, but psychologists have been able to achieve some success with cognitive behavioral therapy.
The Center staff members are looking forward to moving into the new Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower and "being able to continue to provide our patients with the highest standard of care, but now in a sophisticated, state-of-the-art environment."
"I am alive today because the doctors at Hadassah are not constrained by the traditional paradigm of medical practice or typical treatment modalities,"
Mr. Weiss, an intellectual property attorney with Cahill Gordon & Reindel in New York, had been visiting Israel with his family and a tour group over the Passover holiday. He is no stranger to medical treatment and pharmaceuticals, since this area is one of his legal specialties. On the last day of the holiday, he suddenly experienced a sharp pain in his ear and began to feel woozy. The hotel physician was called and diagnosed an ear infection. Despite the antibiotic prescribed for him, that night, Mr. Weiss found himself in worse pain. Again, the hotel physician was called and this time, he recommended that Mr. Weiss go to the hospital to have the fluid drained from his ear.
By the time he reached the Hadassah Medical Organization, Mr. Weiss said, he was "violently ill." With the fluid removed, Mr. Weiss still had hopes of flying home as scheduled. When he went to the emergency room to get some pain medication, however, he realized the pain was escalating. Neurologist Dr. Asaf Honig examined him and, although other than an intense headache Mr. Weiss was not exhibiting typical symptoms of bacterial meningitis such as fever and confusion, Dr. Honig suspected he might have contracted bacterial meningitis as a complication of his ear infection. Consequently, among the diagnostic tests he ordered was a spinal tap, an analysis of Mr. Weiss' cerebrospinal fluid, which is a definitive means to diagnose meningitis. In another hospital, Dr. Weiss relates, there would be an excellent chance he would not have been tested for bacterial meningitis, "let alone diagnosed and treated quickly enough to save his life and prevent a lifetime of adverse health effects."
When bacterial meningitis is left undiagnosed, Mr. Weiss brings out, it is fatal 90 percent of the time! As many medical experts told Mr. Weiss when he returned home, "This is an example of a miracle diagnosis. You are lucky to be alive!" For Mr. Weiss, however, "the miracle is the miracle of Hadassah itself." As he explains: "Not only does Hadassah generate cutting-edge research, but also its physicians, themselves, are continually at the cutting-edge of knowledge."
Hadassah's specialists treated Mr. Weiss with intravenous antibiotics and steroids and informed him that he could not get on a plane for 14 days. Mr. Weiss spent the next two weeks at Hadassah, recovering. "It is the mindset of Hadassah that makes the difference," he comments.
During his remarks at the Jewish Museum gala, Mr. Weiss noted that the then upcoming Jewish festival of Succot is also referred to as Z'man Simchateinu, the holiday of rejoicing. He expressed gratitude that, because of the doctors at Hadassah, he was able to enjoy the holiday with his family and thus had an extra reason to be rejoicing this year. When the Holy Temple was in existence, Mr. Weiss also pointed out, the Rabbis teach that during the festival of Succot, 70 sacrifices were made for the benefit of all the nations of the world. "This fits perfectly with Hadassah's mission of enhancing the health of people worldwide," Mr. Weiss said. This mission, he added, "is echoed in the vision of Hadassah's founder, Henrietta Szold, who stated that one of the core values of the organization was not only 'the healing of the daughters of our people', but also the healing of the nations."
To help women who are grappling with infertility in a more holistic way, the Hadassah Medical Organization opened a Mind-Body Fertility Center, which offers cognitive therapy and stress reduction classes, as well as yoga.
The Center is headed up by Dr. Karen Friedman, a cognitive behavioral therapist and mother of eight, who made aliyah to Israel 25 years ago. As Dr. Friedman notes, "Israel needs babies, and every woman feels that she has to have children. When infertility procedures are going slowly, a woman needs to reconnect with the positive aspects of herself."
Research has shown, Dr. Friedman says, that reducing stress increases the chances of conception in unexplained infertility cases. To alleviate stress, women in the program learn not only how to relax their muscles, but also how to challenge negative thoughts, according to Dr. Friedman. They are encouraged to stop looking at themselves as failures if they require egg donations or other procedures or if the procedures fail to prove successful right away. The women gain strength from the social and emotional support and the friendships they develop.
Dr. Osnat Levtzion-Korach, Director of Hadassah's hospital on Mount Scopus, relates: "We believe that women will choose to come to Hadassah for treatment not only because it is on the cutting edge of medicine, especially in the field of in vitro fertilization, but also because the Center offers a woman a holistic approach to this very sensitive issue. We at the Hadassah Mind-Body Center will offer women the emotional support they are entitled to during this challenging time."
Originally funded with a $30,000 donation from Stanley Black of Los Angeles, the Center now has a $100,000 budget. The goal is to expand the program to include a nutritionist and a journaling expert. No other fertility center in Israel is providing this kind of program and Dr. Friedman hopes it will serve as a model for other hospitals. "We want to put this program on the map," Dr. Friedman says, "to give every woman a one-on-one program to relax, build her self-esteem, and have the best chance of having children."
Dr. Friedman can be reached at email@example.com.
To ensure that the Hadassah Medical Organization's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) is achieving the highest international standards of safety, the PICU staff has designed systems to prevent children from picking up infections while hospitalized; to enhance the safety of mechanical ventilation; and to guarantee that medications are given in both safe and effective doses.
Since assuming the medical directorship of the PICU in November 2012, Prof. Philip Toltzis has initiated various programs to improve the efficiency of care. As he explains, the more quickly children can be properly cared for and safely discharged, the larger the number of sick children who will be able to benefit from the advantages of the sophisticated and specialized care the Unit has to offer. Prof. Toltzis relates that admissions this past year have increased by 10 percent.
Hadassah is the only hospital in Israel to have a pediatric neurosurgery service headed up by a pediatric neurosurgeon who is also a pediatric epilepsy surgeon: Dr. Mony Benifla. He has already performed seizure excision surgery on two children successfully, achieving significant reductions in the severity of their seizures. This operation is only considered for children who have epilepsy that cannot be controlled with medications. The surgery begins with the placing of special sensing devices directly on the brain. For several days thereafter, the electrical activity of the child's brain is monitored continuously in the PICU, in collaboration with the pediatric neurology specialists, to identify the exact location where the seizures originate. At the end of the week, that specific area is carefully removed surgically.
Another heart-warming patient story from the PICU concerns Alfendi, an East Jerusalem baby who was born with very complicated heart disease. After his heart was repaired surgically, he experienced electrical heart abnormalities which required insertion of a pacemaker. He also had on-going severe lung problems which required mechanical ventilation and repeated drainage of fluid from his chest. Alfendi spent months in the PICU, with episodes of life-threatening cardiac and respiratory failure, from which he repeatedly made improbable recoveries. Each time after resuscitation, the entire team breathed a sigh of relief.
When he reached about six months of age, Alfendi began to have fewer life-threatening episodes. For the first time ever, he began to smile and interact with people and toys. He remained in Hadassah's PICU, however, because he could not yet be removed from the mechanical ventilator and his community was unable to care for a ventilator-dependent child.
When Alfendi was ten months old, his situation had improved enough that the PICU staff was able begin weaning him from his ventilator. Shortly after his first birthday--which was celebrated in the PICU by his family and all the staff--he was able to live safely and comfortably without the ventilator and his parents could look forward to bringing him home.
Sometimes, the young patients come from other countries, far from Israel. Sergei, a five-year-old from Georgia in the Former Soviet Union, was brought to Israel by his parents because local doctors could not uncover the reason for his fevers and weight loss. The family came directly from Ben Gurion Airport to the pediatric emergency room at Hadassah Hospital- Ein Kerem. Doctors were so concerned by his ill appearance that he was immediately transferred to the PICU. By the end of his first day in Israel, Sergei was diagnosed with lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph glands, which had spread throughout his body.
Because Sergei's tumor was extremely large and the poisons released during chemotherapy could cause serious damage to other organs in his body, the PICU team, in collaboration with Hadassah's pediatric hematology-oncology specialists, decided to begin chemotherapy in the PICU instead of in the Department of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, where treatment is usually administered. In the PICU, Sergei could be monitored around the clock.
During the first days of treatment, Sergei's blood chemistry tests showed severe abnormalities. Because his breathing was distressed, he needed mechanical ventilation. He also required dialysis when his kidneys failed. The stakes were enormously high. If the staff could get the young boy through the first few days, then his cancer would probably be curable. After a week of meticulous, round-the-clock care, Sergei's complications began to resolve.
Eventually, Sergei's lung and kidney functions returned to normal and there was no evidence of residual cancer. Shortly thereafter, he was healthy enough to travel back to Georgia, where his local doctors could continue his care, in consultation with Hadassah's pediatric oncology specialists.
Alfendi and Surgei are, of course, just two of the many children who are routinely helped in Hadassah's PICU. All of the babies and children admitted to the Unit experience critical periods in their recovery that require constant moment-to-moment monitoring and frequent, life-saving interventions that can only be delivered by an expert intensive care team, with the aid of state-of-the-art equipment.
The Hadassah Medical Organization's Sharett Institute of Oncology provides comprehensive, compassionate care to patients of today, while it has its eye on helping the cancer patients of tomorrow, not only in Israel, but all over the globe. That's why research is a major focus of the Institute.
Chair of the Institute is Prof. Tamar Peretz, who received her medical education at the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical School and did a two-year fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. "Oncology is a very difficult field in many aspects," notes Prof. Peretz. "First of all," she explains, "we are dealing with very very sick patients. For some of them, it is, unfortunately, obvious that they are not going to be cured. Coping with this gloomy future and their daily problems is hard for everyone."
By the same token, Prof. Peretz brings out that she sees the field of cancer treatment expanding. "When I compare what we can do today to what we could do 20 years ago," she says, "I know that we cure many more patients; we prolong the life of many other patients; and we improve the quality of life. So every time we encounter difficulties, we also remember what we contribute."
Aside from the cutting-edge clinical care, at Hadassah, the oncology patients receive a lot of emotional support, since there are 10 psycho-oncologists on the Institute's team of health professionals. One patient that Prof. Peretz remembers well was a 23-year-old woman with locally advanced breast cancer. Her tumor was very large and there was massive involvement of her lymph nodes. Hadassah's oncologists and surgeons decided it would be best to begin with chemotherapy to shrink the tumor and then follow with surgery. Since the woman had a family history of breast cancer and contracted the disease so young, she was tested for the BRCA mutation. When the test revealed the presence of the mutation, the woman, after consultation with Hadassah's multidisciplinary staff, decided to have a bilateral mastectomy. But, Prof. Peretz relates, this did not stop her from going on to have three children!
The Institute's Clinic for Oncogenetic Counseling is a source of pride. Founded in 1995, it has helped more than 4,000 patients to identify their genetic risks for cancer. Having identified BRCA mutations that are specific to women of Persian origin, Hadassah has pioneered the testing of these women who have a history of breast cancer in their family. "This test can save the lives of many Persian women and their daughters," Prof. Peretz notes, "because it enables a physician to diagnose the cancer at an early stage."
Prof. Peretz adds: "Not only are we saving the lives of women of today, but we are also affecting the future of their children." She explains that Hadassah employs a technique called Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) whereby an egg is fertilized through in vitro fertilization and, three days later, the embryo, now consisting of 6-10 cells, is examined to see if it is carrying a breast cancer mutation. If a BRCA mutation is found, that particular embryo is not chosen for implantation, ensuring that the women's children will not carry the mutated gene.
Hadassah was the first in the world to use PGD to ensure that a woman who carries the BRCA mutation would not transfer this genetic abnormality to her children.
National Hadassah President Marcie Natan visited former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel Ovadia Yosef and his family at Hadassah's hospital in Ein Kerem.
The 93-year-old rabbi has been receiving treatment at Hadassah Medical Organization for blood pressure problems, kidney function and heart rate, and is on a respirator that Prof. David Linton, a pilot as well as Director of Hadassah’s Medical Intensive Care Unit and Emergency Transport Unit, helped develop with the Hamilton Company in Reno, Nevada.
The Chief Rabbi’s daughter, Adina Bar Shalom, who is also the founder of the Haredi program at Hadassah Academic College, expressed her gratitude to the hospital and its staff. "At Hadassah," she said, "the doctors work as a team. No one is too condescending to consult with colleagues. They don't only do this for my father, a well-known patient, but for all the other patients, too. We are so grateful."
A Romanian medical student who has been hospitalized at Hadassah since he was airlifted to Israel after being electrocuted on a sightseeing electric train in Moldavia, has just regained his ability to speak thanks to insertion of a speech valve.
Nineteen-year-old David Fintzi’s first words to his parents were questions about where he was and why he wasn’t in medical school. David had been on a trip to visit a friend in Iasi, Moldavia when he was hit with 27,000 volts of electricity.
No one knows exactly how it happened. Somehow, David had touched the electric cable—perhaps leaning out the open window to take a photograph. Initially, David was helicoptered to a hospital in Bucharest.The treatment he received there, however, failed to improve his condition.
The Jewish community rallied around his distraught parents, Andre and Manuela Fintzi.
"I'm not sure when the idea of moving him to Israel came up," says Andre, a movie and stage actor. "But over and over, the idea was floated that Israel had enormous experience in burns because of all the wars. First we decided on Israel, and then on Hadassah.” The Jewish Agency got involved and plans were made to send Hadassah’s air ambulance to pick David up and bring him to Israel. Ironically, David, who had been completing training as a youth movement counselor, was planning to visit Israel later in the summer, but instead, he was airlifted to the Hadassah Medical Center, fighting for his life.
As they took off to reach the necessary height of 37,000 feet, David's oxygen saturation fell, and bells started to ring. "We had to take him off the respirator at intervals and manually provide oxygen," relates Dr. Marc Romaine, an internist who accompanied David.
For Andre Fintzi, that was the most frightening part of the journey. "I am sensitive to facial expression, and three times I could see Dr. Romaine look very worried when the bells rang," he said. "I was terrified that we were losing David."
But two and a half hours after takeoff, they landed in Jerusalem and an ambulance brought David to Hadassah.
With his recovery progressing well, David has now been moved from the Intensive Care Unit to a single room in the Sara Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower’s Department of Plastic Surgery, where he is in a special isolation room to guard against infection.
“The room is so wonderful,” said his father, Andre Fintzi. “It enables us to be with him around the clock, to help in his care, and to give him comfort.” He added: “I realize even more now that Hadassah was the bridge from death to life for my son.”
The Hadassah AIDS Center will conduct an in-service seminar on AIDS awareness and prevention for family doctors this coming Wednesday, October 2. The seminar, "HIV-A Virus Without Borders", is being organized as a result of the recent increase in AIDS cases among residents of East Jerusalem. Nearly half of the cases weren’t diagnosed until the advanced stages of the virus even though patients felt sick and were seen by doctors.
The AIDS Center at Hadassah was established in 1985 and the multidisciplinary team provides diagnosis, treatment and support for HIV/AIDS patients. Additionally, the center conducts various studies on HIV/AIDS. The center is currently treating around 400 HIV carriers: Jews, Arabs and Christians.
"This virus doesn’t only affect what would be considered 'classic' high-risk groups where physicians might be looking for symptoms,” said AIDS Center Director Dr. Hila Elinav. “Family physicians don’t think of HIV when examining the men, women and children from their regular practices, and they are missing the initial signs. There is less openness about homosexuality and drug use. That means that patients are diagnosed dangerously late, and arrive at the Center much later than they should and have a lower chance of overcoming the virus. Early detection of the disease, while it is still in the carrier stage can help slow the virus and prevent the development of AIDS."
The seminar will include lectures on diagnosis methods, early symptoms, treatment options, quality of life and life-expectancy. The seminar will take place at the Dan Hotel in Jerusalem.
While Congressman Doug LaMalfa of California was visiting Israel with his wife, Jill, on an American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) mission, he suffered a kidney stone attack and found himself a patient at Hadassah Medical Organization.
The Congressman began feeling pain during the evening; by midnight the pain had become so severe that he was taken to Hadassah. "Doug has a high tolerance for pain," Mrs. LaMalfa relates, "so I knew something was very wrong."
Neither the Congressmen nor Mrs. LaMalfa were familiar with the Hadassah Medical Center or Hadassah, the organization, although Mrs. LaMalfa had been involved in a Bible study where she learned about Esther and her Hebrew name, Hadassah. "The staff reminded me of Esther," she notes, "and after spending about 24 hours at the Medical Center, "I understood that the spirit of Hadassah is in the women."
Mrs. LaMalfa, who had never been to Israel before, was extremely moved by the kindness she and her husband were shown. As she expresses,
Prof. Dov Pode, head of the Department of Urology, visited the Congressman several times. In addition, Head Nurse Saad Gera made it a point of dropping in every 20 minutes or so to make sure the Congressman was not in pain. Dr. Yuval Weiss, Director of Hadassah-Ein Kerem, was in constant contact with the physicians and nurses taking care of Mr. LaMalfa.
After a stay in the emergency room, Mr. LaMalfa was eventually transferred to a private room in the Department of Urology in the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower. When he later met Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, they conversed about the amazing new facility, since the Prime Minister had just been a patient there a few days before the Congressman for a hernia repair.
Senior Urologist Prof. Ofer Gofrit alleviated most of the Congressman's pain with the insertion of a stent, a flexible plastic tube placed between the kidney and the bladder to allow urine to flow unobstructed, prevent damage to the blocked kidney, and facilitate passage of the stones. As a result, the LaMalfas were able to continue their tour of Israel as planned. They report that at AIPAC's closing dinner, Hadassah received a "shout out," in recognition of the excellent and kind care the Congressman received.
Rep. LaMalfa, who describes himself as "an old fashioned farmer who grows rice" in the northern reaches of California near the Oregon border, enthusiastically volunteered to speak about his experience at Hadassah chapters in his district and beyond. Describing his experience at the hospital, the Congressman said: "We were as comfortable and confident about the care there as if we were at home. If it can be fun, they made it so!"
"I don't believe in chance or even accidents much," relates Mrs. LaMalfa, "so I know that the people we met and the experiences we had at and through Hadassah were meant to be. Aside from the pain Doug has endured, we consider this all to be a blessing."
The Heart Institute at the Hadassah Medical Organization is currently training two cardiac fellows from Turkey and one from Bosnia.
The staff recently bid farewell to three cardiac fellows--one from Serbia and two from Costa Rica. These fellows have been at Hadassah for five years and Prof. Chaim Lotan, head of the Heart Institute reports, "they speak and read Hebrew like natives and are superb cardiologists."
Hadassah's Heart Institute has also trained fellows from Bulgaria, Romania, and Latvia, as well as other countries across the globe. "Our fellows have made a significant impact in many of their home countries," Prof. Lotan notes, "bringing with them tools and techniques that did not previously exist back home." Hadassah keeps in touch with its fellows via international meetings and email. "Our fellows become our ambassadors throughout the world," he says.
Eagerly anticipated is the soon-to-be-completed Surgical Center on Lower Level Four of the Hadassah Medical Organization's Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower.
Architects, engineers, physicians, nurses, and a range of other professionals studied operating facilities and systems worldwide, along with health profiles and demographics. They pinpointed Hadassah's many areas of surgical excellence, mapped its future directions, and explored the developing surgical strategies, technologies, and procedures of tomorrow. "We looked at our everyday needs, tried to anticipate those of the future, and worked to address them all," explains Prof. Avi Nissan, head of Hadassah's Department of Surgery. "Ideally, we're building an infrastructure that will accommodate tools as they're developed--from those in design to those not yet thought of."
With the distinction of being the largest floor in the Tower, The Surgical Center extends underground far beyond the building's upper footprint to allow for its 20 operating rooms and pre-and post-op recovery units. An intra-operative mobile CT scanner, designed by the United States Defense Department for use on the battlefield; a mobile MRI machine that can roll between one of the specialty operating rooms and a procedure room; and specially designated sections for children are among the Center's special features.
The new operating rooms are light years away from the current ones in the old building. For example, instead of the walls being porous plaster, they are large steel panels which eliminate glare, meet stringent hygiene and safety requirements, shield against x-rays and protect against fire. A special three-color combination of lights allows surgeons to change the type and degree of illumination as needed.
Once the Center opens, the former operating room complex will be used for major and minor same-day surgery, while the new Surgical Center will be dedicated to complicated cases. Prof. Nissan brings out that having additional operating rooms available will expand the number of patients they can treat.
The new operating rooms, however, are designed to provide the best environment to perform complex trauma surgery, complex oncology procedures, organ transplants, and advanced laparoscopic and robotic surgery. Hadassah's surgery department, he reports, "is a leading center in each of these fields and the new operating rooms will give us the tools to excel in our expertise."
For example, one area of expertise is the novel approach introduced by Prof. Nissan and his surgical team to treating peritoneal metastasis—cancer that has spread into the lining of the stomach. The approach involves combining radical surgery with intra-operative heated chemotherapy. At the moment, the procedure is being performed in the Center for Peritoneal Surface Malignancies at Hadassah Hospital-Ein Kerem. "We have already successfully completed five very complex cases," Prof. Nissan reports. "We are the leading center of its kind in the world," he says.
At the same time, he notes that all the members of Hadassah's surgery department are also involved in research. "Hadassah's Surgery and Critical Care Research Laboratory and our Center for Innovative Surgery," he says, "ensure that we will continue to be leaders in the field." In addition, to better equip himself to build a world-class, patient-centered surgical center, Prof. Nissan just completed a one-year course at Harvard University's business school on managing health care delivery.
Prof. Charles Weissman, Chair of the Division of Anesthesiology and Critical Care, praises the architects who used their creativity to ensure that the protected underground floors, "essentially a bunker," are inviting places to work. For example, there is the Patient Reception Center on the entrance floor that is designed for pre-admission evaluation, testing, and preparation for elective procedures.
As Prof. Yoram Weiss, Chair of the Department of Anesthesiology, expresses: "Hadassah has very good doctors but, until now, we didn't have an infrastructure to match those of other Israeli institutions. In the Davidson Tower, the surroundings, the experience. and the medicine are all at the same superb standard."
They're just about the last persons you'd expect to have a medal of honor for distinguished military service in their curriculum vitaes. Dan Engelhard could be mistaken for a Berkeley professor, longish grey hair sometimes in a pony tail, so soft-spoken you often need to lean close to hear. Dina Ben Yehuda is a combination of Marie Curie and TV's Dr. Michaela Quinn. They're both professors of medicine and hands-on physicians at Hadassah Hospital, parents to young adult children.
But each of these lives of healing was shaped by service in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in the Yom Kippur War. Dan Engelhard was a just-out-of-school doctor from Jerusalem. His parents had fled Germany before the war and established a small business in Jerusalem. He'd studied biology in a high school yeshiva and went to medical school in the army reserve program. He'd finished his internship and had completed the course which synchs medical education with front-line exigencies. Of course, those were theoretical. An average day as doctor for Unit 53 of the Barak Armored Brigade (188) meant dealing with soldiers with trivial sprains from jumping off tanks and sore throats from the cold nights.For months, the Syrian army seemed to be flexing muscles on the other side of the 36-mile border line. Skirmish after skirmish. Dr. Engelhard hadn't gone home for Rosh Hashanah, and was expecting to go home to Jerusalem for Yom Kippur, but leave was cancelled, and so he stayed.
On Yom Kippur, they were anticipating still another exchange of fire with the Syrians. He, his fellow officers, and nearly all the "tankists" were fasting. Midday, the officer in charge made a startling announcement: this was no skirmish. This was war. He recommended that soldiers break their fasts and prepare for battle. "I set an example and drank a glass of water in public," said Prof. Engelhard. "I understood this was serious, although it was impossible to imagine the magnitude of the threat."
Israel had 3000 troops, 170 tanks, and 60 artillery pieces in the Golan Heights. The Syrian attack included 28,000 troops, 1400 tanks, and 100 artillery batteries.
At 1:50 pm, the Syrians surprised the Israelis with a massive attack. One hundred fighter planes attacked Israeli positions on the Golan Heights. Near Dr. Engelhard, a soldier was killed on the spot. Row after row of Syrian tanks rolled across the border towards the Israelis in the North and South of the Golan Heights.
In the Southern Heights, the Barak Brigade commander, the second-in-command, and the operations officer were killed in a stubborn attempt to hold ground. The Barak Brigade could no longer function as a cohesive force. Each surviving tank crew had to improvise to stop the advance.
The Air Force tried to provide air support, but was initially unsuccessful. Russian advisors had secretly helped create a greater anti-aircraft defense net than had protected Hanoi in the Vietnam War. Shoulder-held missiles hit tanks and impeded the support of combat helicopters. In a short time, the Barak Brigade had only 12 tanks left. They faced 600 Syrian tanks coming their way. They wouldn't yield. They knew they were the last barrier between the Syrian army and the Sea of Galilee and the valley villages of Israel.
"There were tremendous casualties from the beginning," said Prof. Engelhard. "Somehow, I managed to remain calm and treat them, using all the practice and theory I'd had in my training. We were dealing with mass casualties, not isolated wounded."
From headquarters which was behind the ever-approaching front line, he dispatched a medic in an armored personnel carrier to pick up the latest wounded and bring them for care.
In the meantime, at three am, the order came for command headquarters to move to a safer location. The Syrians were approaching fast. They were in the Southern part of the Heights, near the border.
"I knew I had to stay behind," said Prof. Engelhard. "The medic I'd sent wasn't back with the wounded. So I remained alone. I reasoned that if I heard the creak of the chains of the Syrian tanks in the distance, I would run. But I hoped the medic would return first." Night was always the worst for the soldiers. The Syrians had been supplied with night-vision equipment, but the Israelis had none.
Said Prof. Engelhard: "At seven am, I heard a motor. It was the medic and the wounded. I was able to treat them." The Syrian attack slowed. Israeli reservists, all home for Yom Kippur, mobilized quickly and reinforced the beleaguered regulars in the Golan. Four days after the war began, the last Syrian troops were pushed out of the Golan. The tank battalions pressed on within Syria.
Two of Engelhard's medics were killed. He continued treating soldiers under fire. "I witnessed such inspiring courage," he said. "Each day we'd set out knowing that not all of us would be there the next day, but we knew we couldn't afford to lose." He remained in the army, eventually earning the rank of a full colonel.
For his actions, leadership, and courage, he was awarded the Israel Defense Forces "Exemplary Conduct Medal for Outstanding Medical Services under Fire." Eventually, he returned to Hadassah Hospital. "We didn't speak of our experiences," said Prof. Engelhard. He decided to take care of sick children and did a residency in pediatrics and infectious diseases.
The 14th Brigade had the impossible task of defending the Bar Lev line, widely-separated forts that couldn't hold back the concentrated Egyptian attack. The soldiers later fought a successful battle that helped turn the war around in what was called the Chinese Farm. Their brigade lost 305 soldiers, more than any other brigade. "The initial surprise and losses sometimes overshadow the valor and resourcefulness of the soldiers," said Ben Yehuda.
As soon as there was a tentative ceasefire, she went to the battlefield to gather more information on those still missing.
Before there was a special branch of the IDF to care for wounded soldiers and bereaved families, she created the position, traveling through the county to hospitals and homes. Sometimes she improvised social work. Sometimes she showed up with school supplies or a space heater. "At one home, the soldier's father refused to open the door," said Prof. Ben Yehudah. "I said I wouldn't move until he did. I was so tired that I fell asleep on the doorstep. Twelve hours later, the door opened. Inside stood a bereaved father and his children. Months had passed since his son had disappeared. He hadn't let the children leave his sight. They were locked in the apartment and hadn't returned to school."
Prof. Ben Yehuda received the Chief of Staff's Citation from Motta Gur.
Prof. Engelhard was the first physician sent by the Israel Government and Hadassah to Kinshasa, Zaire. He headed the pediatric department of the Israeli field hospital sent by the Israel Government for medical care of Rwanda refugees, the Israeli field hospital for Kosovo refugees, and the field hospital for earthquake victims in Duzce, Turkey. In 2004, he was dispatched to Sri-Lanka after the Tsunami. "When you compare your medical career to that of colleagues abroad whom you meet at conferences in your field, you have to admit that army and national service do slow your progress as an academic physician," said Prof. Engelhard. "You reach their academic positions at a later age. But service in the Yom Kippur War taught me that you have to be clear about what matters most."
In 2005, he was in Ethiopia and invited to visit an orphanage where 400 boys and girls were dying from HIV/AIDS. They were being treated with compassion by the Mother Teresa order of nuns who minister to the dying. Engelhard was sure they didn't have to die. He'd treated tiny AIDS patients, among them Africans, at Hadassah Hospital, where he heads the pediatric AIDS unit. (You remember him from the recent visit of actress Sharon Stone.)
The American government under President George W. Bush would provide the medicine, and he would provide the HIV/AIDS expertise. The nuns would make sure the complex daily cocktails of anti-retroviral drugs were taken in full. The nuns put themselves out of a job. The dying stopped. Another order of nuns that ministers to the living replaced them. To supplement the medicine, Prof. Engelhard founded a corps of volunteer physicians, nurses, students, and medical clowns to bring art therapy and TLC to the recovering children. There are seven orphanages now, in Ethiopia and Uganda. Hadassah's "Schindler" has saved the lives of thousands of African children through this program.
Her phone rings every few minutes for life and death consultation. Driven to help her patients and to produce a treatment that will defeat cancer, she rises at 5:30 am and works until 10 pm. A medication she's developed is in the process of gaining approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration.
Why would she choose a medical specialty in which patients are fighting for their lives? "Maybe the best way to feel safe is to be close to death, in the battle to defeat disease," she says. "I put the emphasis in my life on healing." Her cell phone photo gallery is full of cancer survivors and their children. With the IDF job she created, the IDF gave her a lot of latitude because it hadn't existed before. "I learned how to grow into a position and take responsibility," she says. "I was no longer the naive youngster who had graduated from the Hebrew Reali High School two years earlier."
The Yom Kippur War remains the greatest trauma of Prof. Engelhard's life, and the one he speaks least easily about. "The Yom Kippur War changed me and affected everything I did afterwards," says Prof. Engelhard, who is married and the father of four. "I was already a doctor, but seeing so much death close up taught me the value of life. I realized that all concerns are small when compared to the battle to protect life. Let the small worries go. Choose life." .
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When a baby was abandoned on a doorstep in Jerusalem's Old City, with the message, "Please take care of my baby girl!", last week the police brought the baby to Hadassah Hospital-Mount Scopus where physicians of Hadassah's Medical Adoption Unit go beyond medicine to find the baby a home.
At the Medical Adoption Unit, the potential parents are waiting. You can hear their arrested breathing as Dr. Shaya Wexler, director of the adoption unit--the only national adoption unit in Israel working with the government-- weighs and measures the baby, peruses the chemical parameters in blood tests, and elicits a laugh from the newborn. They couple is already in love with this child.
"As a doctor, you are supposed to leave your own heart at the door," says Dr. Wexler. "But these check-ups are tough," he says.
"Let's say you discover fetal alcohol syndrome, which isn't uncommon. On the one hand, you want to give this child who is already an innocent victim a chance at a good life. On the other hand, you owe the adoptive parents as much information as you can give them about what they may have to face. Even that is sketchy because you can't absolutely predict school and behavioral problems that are associated with a syndrome.
"I look at every adoptive parent as a righteous person who is ready to give love and care to a needy child. It's my weighty responsibility as a Hadassah physician to provide information, to give medical counseling, and to offer support. Sometimes the news is heart-breaking, but there's also great hope. Parents can see beyond medical challenges and bring out the tremendous potential of these kids."
Dr. Wexler and his co-director, Dr. Ariel Tannenbaum see children from newborns to teenagers at every stage of the adoption process--when they first enter the system, when they meet potential adoptive parents, and often afterwards, working together with the child welfare services. "Even choosing the right words to present a child's medical profile to parents is agonizing," said Dr. Wexler, "This is part of my job at Hadassah that goes way beyond medicine."
Murad Alyan, an Arab medical translator and Chief of the East Jerusalem Bureau of United Hatzalah, an all-volunteer emergency medical service, received the 2013 Victor J. Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East from the Institute of International Education (IIE), along with United Hatzalah Founder and President Eli Beer.
The two leaders were honored for bringing Jewish and Arab volunteers together to provide first response emergency services to all people, regardless of ethnicity or religion throughout Israel. As their certificate reads, "The Institute of International Education proudly presents this award to recognize their courage and commitment to overcoming the religious, cultural, ethnic, and political differences that divide the Middle East. We commend their collaboration in the hope that their work will inspire others on the path to peace." The Goldberg award, which includes a $10,000 prize, was presented to Mr. Alyan and Mr. Beer at a ceremony at the American Center in Jerusalem.Mr. Beer founded United Hatzalah in West Jerusalem in 2006. Mr. Alyan, having witnessed tragic losses of life in East Jerusalem due to the delayed arrivals of medical responders, approached Mr. Beer about a joint venture to provide a similar service in East Jerusalem. Mr. Beer agreed to expand the United Hatzalah services to East Jerusalem, with the condition that the East Jerusalem volunteers respond to emergencies both inside and outside of the area.
United Hatzalah now has more than 2,000 Jewish and Muslim, secular and religious, and male and female volunteers who are trained as emergency medical responders. These volunteers, who undergo a minimum of 200 course hours of training, as well as field experience, are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Last year, they treated 207,000 people with a two to three-minute response time. Making this possible is their fleet of ambucycles, which are able to travel through the narrow alleyways of Jerusalem and arrive before the regular ambulances.
Thanks to this joint venture, the nearly 100 Arab United Hatzalah responders are not only respected leaders within their own communities, but have also garnered the respect of non-Arab citizens who have benefited from their medical services. Working together in this live-saving capacity has also brought Arab and Jewish volunteers together socially for important life events and family occasions. United Hatzalah's model and innovative technology are being adopted in Brazil, Mexico, and Panama. Go to http://unitedhatzalah.org to read more about Hatzalah.
A multidisciplinary, holistic approach to patient care, combined with a large number of physician/scientists who take care of patients and conduct their own research are hallmarks of the Hadassah Medical Center's Internal Medicine department.
Its chair is Prof. Yaakov Naparstek, who was recently named Executive Deputy Director General of Research and Academics. As he notes, Internal Medicine is his professional project of which he is very proud. Hadassah's physician/scientists, he brings out, understand both the natural processes of the human body as a scientist would, as well as the disease as it clinically manifests itself--the way a physician would. Physician/scientists translate research they conduct in the laboratory into treatments for their patients. Therefore, he relates, they have a "unique role in developing new therapies." Personally, Prof. Naparstek notes, he believes that being a scientist makes him a better physician and being a physician makes him a better scientist.
Prof. Naparstek has always been particularly drawn to examine the functioning of the immune system and what causes it to become pathological--what causes autoimmune diseases. "I wanted to understand it; I wanted to solve it," he says. Prof. Naparstek is currently investigating lupus, which frequently affects young women. The inflammation that results from this autoimmune disease, he explains, is typically treated with drugs like corticosteroids, which suppress the immune system. His research revolves around investigating the "bad antibodies" that cause the disesase and how to remove just those antibodies and leave the good ones intact.
"While many people in the medical world ask why some people develop rheumatoid arthritis, at Hadassah," Prof. Naparstek says, "we ask why most people do not get the disease." Following this line of thinking, Hadassah looks into treatment which will replicate natural processes that keep people healthy.
Using animal models, Hadassah's physician/scientists study the protective antibodies that prevent the animal from getting arthritis. They are now performing clinical trials using protective antibodies they have created through genetic engineering and various sophisticated molecular techniques, not only with patients who have rheumatoid arthritis, but also with individuals who have other inflammatory diseases such as Crohn's and ulcerative colitis.
Plans are for the Internal Medicine Department to move into the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower in the spring of 2014. The new structure of the intensive care units—three intermediate ones for each of the three inpatient care departments and a fourth medical intensive care unit for more critically ill patients all in one suite--will enable the staff to work more in tandem and help one another. In addition, Prof. Naparstek says, the spacious new two-patient rooms, with privacy for each patient, will make doctor visits more comfortable for both the patient and the family and allow for more procedures to be performed at the patient's bedside.
The first member of his family to become a physician, Prof. Naparstek has been at Hadassah for 40 years. He met his wife, a hematologist, while they were both medical students at the Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Medicine. Together, when they were young physicians, they performed the first bone marrow transplantation in Israel. Prof. Naparstek, who served as a visiting professor and research fellow at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda (Maryland), Tufts University (Massachusetts), and Stanford University (California), views donors around the world as part of his family--a family that has the same vision he has: to have the best medical treatment possible for Hadassah's patients and the best modern medical research.
During the past year, nearly a million patients of all ages turned to Hadassah Medical Organization's two campuses of healing, at Ein Kerem and Mount Scopus, for diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care.
Hadassah handled a total of 406,044 hospitalization days; 10,971 babies were born in its delivery rooms; 650,736 ambulatory care visits took place; 4,318,652 laboratory tests were performed; and 137,142 patients arrived at Hadassah’s emergency rooms for help.
At the same time, 487 research articles by Hadassah physicians were published; 231 scientific grants were awarded to Hadassah researchers; and Hadassah received 14.5 research grants from the prestigious Israel Scientific Foundation. All other hospitals across Israel combined received a total of 16 grants.
Additionally, Hadassah trained the next generation of Israeli physicians, scientists, dentists, nurses, and occupational therapists, as well as health professionals from many countries around the world, who chose to further their training at Hadassah.
Dear Hadassah Family,
Rosh Hashanah is practically upon us bringing with it reflections on the year that has transpired and anticipation of the year to come. In a way, for me, the New Year also began on June 1st when I became Director General of the Hadassah Medical Organization. Approaching this new role involved a great deal of thought. Among the first things I undertook was a thorough analysis of HMO's structure.
In thinking about the future, I was determined to find a new approach to the management and administration of our Medical Center. I came to Hadassah incredibly impressed with the expertise and excellence of the men and women on both our campuses. Every day I learn of another research accomplishment or another innovative initiative in patient care and I am even more impressed. At the same time, I was convinced a better way could be found to take full advantage of the talents and skills of our extraordinary staff and put our entire institution on a firmer footing.
Sometimes an outsider can see solutions those involved cannot. No longer quite an outsider, I have created a rather simple schematic that clarifies chains of command and more clearly delineates areas of responsibility. I believe that the new organizational structure further enhances HMO's amazing ability to provide the finest in healing, teaching and research.
I would like to share with you some of the strategic points of this plan. Among our first steps was an overhaul of the administrative structure. This was followed by a complete reorganization of our Medical Services, taking advantage of our wealth of accomplished and experienced medical personnel. The new structure is designed to clarify the hierarchy of authority and responsibility while simplifying and streamlining processes and procedures – at no additional cost.
I am pleased that two of our leading doctors will head the Medical Management Team, serving as Senior Deputy Directors General, and reporting to the Director General. Even before their appointments were announced, they began working together closely, meeting to exchange ideas, consider current issues and discuss our vision for the future. Both are excited by the dramatic opportunities the new format represents and have embraced it wholeheartedly.
As Senior Deputy Director General of Medical Services, Dr. Yuval Weiss will oversee all medical matters at both Hadassah hospitals, while continuing as Director of Hadassah-Ein Kerem.
As Senior Deputy Director General of Research and Academic Affairs, Prof. Yaakov Naparstek will be responsible for developing, guiding and supervising all HMO research and academic activities. This new position was created to enhance and expand HMO's national and international prominence in translational research and develop even more extensive relationships and collaborations with leading medical centers world-wide. To further bolster these efforts, it will include the Division of Research and Development and Hadasit, HMO's technology transfer company.
Hadassah's broad spectrum of medical and surgical specialties and sub-specialties puts us on par with leading medical centers around the world. To be even better equipped to provide the finest in patient care we have reorganized the medical and surgical departmental structure into 14 clearly-defined Divisions, which are listed at the end of this letter.
We decided this would be best accomplished by grouping departments and units, specialties and sub-specialties, according to the parts of the body they treat. Once again, Hadassah has taken a bold and innovative step forward creating unified medical and surgical Divisions. Now we have multi-disciplinary teams working together to provide our patients more comprehensive care and enhance more collaborative research efforts.
It is often true as conventional wisdom maintains that, change is not easy. However, I must tell you that when we announced the new framework, it was greeted with a great deal of enthusiasm. And in the few weeks that we have been working in the new format, it has been enthusiastically endorsed. For the countless staff members involved, the challenge of change has become the challenge of deciding how to best work with these new and creative concepts.
I wish I had the space in this blog to tell you about more of the many other innovative aspects of these exciting new plans. I hope to do so in the months ahead, as well as provide you with updates on how the new systems are functioning.
I truly believe that soon we will see that our hard work and intense efforts have reaped significant results; that we have become more efficient and more effective, ensuring that the Hadassah Medical Organization will be even more capable of providing our patients with superb clinical care, assuring the next generation of medical professionals an outstanding education and continuing to produce lifesaving research to benefit people everywhere.
I also know that where ever we may be, all of us who call ourselves Hadassah remain profoundly dedicated to the convictions that have propelled us forward from our earliest days and deeply determined to assure that our future will be even more glorious than our past.
May the year 5774 be filled with Health, Happiness and Peace.
Avigdor Kaplan, Ph.D.
In addition, as Senior Deputy Director General of Medical Services, Dr. Yuval Weiss will be directly responsible for the following independent departments:
Breaking new ground for MRI imaging in diagnosing cancerous lesions and observing the body in real time as it metabolizes various molecules, Hadassah's Center for Hyperpolarized MRI Molecular Imaging is an innovator in its domain. Using a technique called hyperpolarization, the Center is able to increase the sensitivity of an MRI scan 10,000 fold.
Specifically, two of the Center's ultimate goals are to diagnose a lesion accurately enough to decide whether it requires treatment and which type, without the need for a biopsy; and to be able to understand how medications given for neuropsychiatric/degenerative conditions such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and severe depression function within the body and prove therapeutic. Under the directorship of Dr. Rachel Katz-Brull, the Center is developing its own unique molecules (called molecular imaging probes) that will help unravel this mystery. A major advantage to these probes is that they are nonradioactive, making the MRI an option for children, pregnant women, and those patients who need repeated metabolic imaging scans. These probes allow the researchers to visualize a specific activity, a function at the molecular level, within the body. Conventional MRI is not sensitive enough to "see" these molecules.
As Dr. Katz-Brull relates, better non-invasive markers for the biological characterization of questionable lesions "are desperately needed to provide more accurate diagnoses and staging, as well as to reduce unnecessary biopsies, which can result in morbidity, stress, and anxiety. When it comes to neurobiological diseases and neurodegenerative diseases, physicians are in desperate need for biomarkers--a quantifiable biological sign of disease--for guiding treatment and making sure that the treatment does benefit the individual patient."
The Center's innovative diagnostic process begins with hyperpolarization, where the molecules are placed in a polarizer that sits alongside the MRI scanner. Once polarized and capable of shining brightly in the MRI image, the probes are "very quickly" injected into the patient. "Very quickly means within seconds," explains Dr. Katz-Brull, "because polarization is normally lost within one to five minutes."
The particular focus of Hadassah's imaging center is developing probes for cancer and neuropsychiatric disorders. The Center is now in the process of producing and conducting pre-clinical testing on various biomarkers for brain, prostate, and breast cancer, along with markers for schizophrenia, ADHD, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and major depressive disorders. The goal is to witness abnormal uptake of the molecules or abnormal metabolic pathways which will indicate the presence of cancer or a neuropsychiatric disorder. This abnormality is revealed by the way the hyperpolarized molecules are distributed on the MRI.
One line of investigation involves creating a probe that is similar in chemical structure to L-DOPA, a treatment for Parkinson's disease. The research team plans to hyperpolarize this analog to enhance its visibility, inject it, and observe how the L-DOPA is taken up by the body's tissues. As Dr. Katz-Brull explains: L-DOPA is converted to dopamine in what are called dopaminergic neurons. Because dopaminergic neurons die in Parkinson's disease, such regions in the brain where these neurons have died lose the ability to metabolize L-DOPA to dopamine. The idea is for the hyperpolarized MRI to reveal for the physician the actual levels of dopamine synthesis in the brain. This process, she brings out, is a viable way to help diagnose Parkinson's disease in its early stages, tailor treatment to the patient's individual condition, and help monitor responses to treatment in real time. "To the best of my knowledge," Dr. Katz-Brull relates, "we are the only laboratory in the world working with this concept."
Another area of investigation--for which Dr. Katz-Brull was just awarded a 1.6 million Euro grant from the European Union's European Research Council--concerns how cancer cells absorb a molecular probe. It is known that cancer cells are able to absorb glucose very well. In PET scans today, a radioactive molecule called fluorodeoxyglucose is used to diagnose cancer. Hadassah's concept is to employ a nonradioactive, hyperpolarized analog of deoxyglucose to diagnose cancer. This analog of deoxyglucose will be labeled with stable isotopes--nonradioactive atoms--that will keep the probe visible long enough for the MRI to reveal the tissues that have these uptake capabilities and signal to the researcher that there is pathology--noninvasively and without the introduction of a radioactive compound. The results are obtained within about a minute.
What is particularly significant is that the hyperpolarization allows us to observe a person's brain function in real time. As Dr. Katz-Brull expresses: "These processes occur all the time; this is actually how the brain works--by sending chemical messages from one neuron to another and we will try to image exactly that."
The Center's Research is carried out in collaboration with Hadassah colleagues Prof. Jacob Sosna, Chair of the Department of Radiology; Prof. J. Moshe Gomori, head of MRI and Neuroradiology; and Prof. Tamir Ben-Hur, head of Neurology, along with the Hadassah-Hebrew University Faculty of Medicine, as well as with a worldwide network of physician/scientists at other research institutions who are leaders in this new field of Hyperpolarized MRI Molecular Imaging.
Dr. Rachel Katz-Brull notes: Once the pre-clinical trials are completed, the goal is to "bring this technology from bench-side to the patient's bedside"—to begin clinical trials with human patients.
The Hadassah Medical Center's Linda Joy Pollin Cardiovascular Institute for Women, created with a 10 million-dollar grant from Psychotherapist Irene Pollin in memory of her daughter, Linda Joy, has already impacted the lives of hundreds of Arab and Israeli families.
"Our mission," explains Dr. Donna Zfat-Zwas, the Institute's Director, is "to increase awareness of cardiovascular disease as a significant cause of death and illness in women throughout Israel." Her goal is to reach both women and health care providers. "People in Israel think heart disease is a man's disease," she says. "Women don't have the awareness they need."
The Institute is reaching out particularly to Israel's Arab and ultraorthodox communities, where heart risk factors are higher. Rates of diabetes among Arab women are up to 50 percent, Dr. Zfat-Zwas reports. Diet and sedentary life style are major contributors to the problem. Hadassah's Institute is working with Arab women to promote a change in their lifestyle behaviors. To that end, the institute has initiated several community programs. One entails reaching out through the local school system to Arab children, their mothers, and their teachers. So far, the Institute has reached 3500 individuals. In September, the staff plans to reach out to seven additional schools. "There is a tremendous difference in awareness in the seven neighborhoods we have already reached," relates Dr. Zfat-Zwas. When she visited these mothers and children, she was told there are no more soft drinks in the house, no more snacks.
Within the ultraorthodox population, the Institute is reaching out through two programs—one in the local school setting; another with Rabbis and their wives. The intent is to have an impact on the entire infrastructure of the Chasidic community to bring about real change toward a healthier lifestyle. For example, knowing that the Haredi teachers have continuing education requirements, the Institute was able to arrange with a Haredi school principal to give continuing education credits to their teachers for engaging in physical activity.
The Institute also has plans to begin a new program with 1,000 "activist-minded" women in East Jerusalem. The goal is to motivate them to make health the next focus of their activism. By the same token, the Institute is focused on helping women to become their own health advocates—to be more effective partners with their physicians in promoting their own own health and in effectively utilizing the health care system.
In terms of reaching health care providers, the Institute professionals are speaking with coordinators of continuing education programs for the major health plans to urge them to raise awareness among family physicians about the risks to women regarding heart disease.
Dr. Zfat-Zwas explains: "We realize that someone from outside the community cannot walk into a community and tell other people what to do; it will not be well received and it is not appropriate." Consequently, she and her staff have worked hard to develop partnerships with community leaders. For example, since second-hand smoke is an important heart disease risk factor for many married women, particularly in the Arab community, the Institute is working with the Imams in the community mosques to get them to talk about this issue because, as Dr. Zfat-Zwas notes, "the pressure on the men has to come from outside the household, not from the inside."
Dr. Zfat-Zwas emphasizes that a most important message to impart to women is how much is in their control when it comes to heart disease prevention. Simple lifestyle interventions make a big difference, she relates. Consequently, the Institute staff encourages women to think more about appropriate diet and physical activity—rather than their weight and appearance. They also educate them as to how symptoms of a heart attack may differ in women. Whereas a man often experiences a sense that an elephant is sitting on his chest, often with pain radiating down his left arm, a woman may experience less specific symptoms—intense fatigue, discomfort in the chest, shoulder or jaw, or a shortness of breath, for example.
Dr. Zfat-Zwas also brings out that women tend to have more heart disease in the smaller vessels of the heart—disease that an angiogram does not reveal. Unlike with disease in a large vessel where a balloon or stent can be inserted to open the artery and keep it open, with small-vessel disease, the options are more limited, with medication as the primary treatment.
When it comes to raising awareness about heart disease among young women, Dr. Zfat-Zwas is quick to say: "The answer is not through fear or through a focus on the 'dark cloud' that looms over us, but rather to get women to embrace healthy lifestyles." She notes too that research at Hadassah is looking into individual genetics as a way to predict what type of diet is right for a particular individual and what type of diet will reduce a specific individual's cholesterol to an acceptable level.
Embracing Mrs. Pollin's vision to help women around the world learn how to better protect themselves against heart disease, Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America has partnered with her organization, Sister to Sister, to motivate women to live heart healthier lives. To learn more about Hadassah's comprehensive heart initiative, "Every Beat Counts: Hadassah's Heart Health Program," go to www.hadassah.org/everybeatcounts or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
As health costs spiraled over the last decade, the need for more cost-effective health care systems has become increasingly urgent. Medical innovation plays a vital role in making medicine both efficient and affordable — not to mention improving the quality of patient care and ensuring positive outcomes. However, the process of creating new medical devices requires an in-depth understanding of multiple disciplines including medicine, engineering, and finance that few could master alone. As a result, most aspiring medical innovators face disappointment as the vast majority of ideas fail before reaching the market.
According to Dr. Yaakov Nahmias, the director of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Center for Bioengineering, "When it comes to bringing an idea to market, there is a huge disparity between Hi-Tech, where a few programmers can succeed, and Bio-Tech, where clinicians, engineers, and business experts must all work together to bring a product to the market."
To solve this problem, Nahmias partnered with Prof. Chaim Lotan, the director of the Heart Institute at Hadassah Medical Organization, supported by Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America. Dr. Lotan is also an expert in clinical innovation. According to Lotan, "We knew that Stanford University's Biodesign program was the most successful medical innovation program to date, and considering the outstanding students at the Hebrew University and Hadassah we were certain we could give them a run for their money."
The two partnered with Prof. Dan Galai, the former Dean of the Business School at the Hebrew University, and with the help of Dr. Todd Brighton, a Biodesign program director at Stanford University, established the Hebrew University's Biodesign program, the first academic medical innovation accelerator in Israel.
Biodesign is a multi-disciplinary, team-based approach to medical innovation. The program takes outstanding medical fellows, bioengineering and business graduate students and tutors them in the science and practice of bringing a medical innovation to the market. The teams receive a list of clinical problems, collected from Israeli and American hospitals, and critically evaluate their commercial potential. Once they identify a clinical need with commercial potential, they find an engineering solution that can be protected by a patent application.
The students are mentored by some of Israel's best and brightest academic and industrial experts, who bring their experience in scientific discovery, clinical applications, and business development.
According to the Hebrew University's Nahmias, "This isn't a pure academic exercise. We have students and clinicians who are eager to bring innovation to the market. The program generated quite of lot of excitement with the business and academic environment. It is exactly this drive that makes Israel a start-up nation."
One year after starting with 20 students and medical fellows, the program has already produced four projects that passed through the proof-of-concept stage, are protected by provisional patent applications, and are showing excellent market potential.
One of the projects, called SAGIV, is a semi-automatic handheld device for rapid and safe IV insertion, using infrared sights and electrical sensing. SAGIV targets a $900 million market with elements already tested on difficult IV insertion cases at the Hadassah Medical Center.
Another project, called GuideIN Tube, is a robotic intubation device which automatically navigates towards the lungs, targeting a $3 billion market.
"The projects really look like science fiction gadgets," said Nahmias. "Even if just a few Biodesign companies succeed, they can completely transform the Israeli medical device sector".
"We have incredibly driven students at the Hebrew University, and Biodesign gives them critical tools they need to succeed," added Lotan. Both directors noted that students accomplished in one academic year what many start-up companies take 2 to 3 years to complete, advancing to the point of having proof-of-principle prototypes.
Yehuda Zisapel, president of RAD-Bynet Group, one of the largest investment groups in Israel, said: "Biodesign is a truly innovative approach to generate and accelerate new ideas. The cooperative efforts of physicians, scientists, engineers and business development people allows for a multidimensional approach which encourages the creation and development of new ideas. I was really impressed by the team work and the spirit created by the program, and also by the impressive achievements of the projects."
Hadassah Medical Center's Prof. Lotan attributes the program's success to several additional factors: "We are based in Jerusalem, where biotechnology ventures are buoyed by sustained government support. We are backed by the strong track record of Yissum and Hadasit, the technology transfer companies of the Hebrew University and Hadassah Medical Center. And we have an important relationship with Stanford's Biodesign program, which offers knowledge, experience and course materials. The Biodesign program has increased Stanford University biomed startup success rates by 4 to 5 folds over the last decade. We envision a similar revolution in Jerusalem, where 50% of the medical research in Israel is already taking place."
“My dream is that every disabled patient in Israel will believe that Hadassah is the best place for them," says Dr. Isabella Schwartz, head of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Hadassah's Hospital on Mount Scopus.
Born in Siberia, where her parents had been transferred from Kiev as children during the second World War, Dr. Schwartz came to live in Israel after she received her medical education. She began her medical residency at the Hadassah Medical Center, specializing in rehabilitation. “Hadassah is where I began my professional work,” she says, and “Hadassah became my second home.”
For Dr. Schwartz, rehabilitation medicine is a journey. As she explains, the approach to patients is comprehensive and holistic. The rehabilitation multidisciplinary team, comprised of rehabilitation physicians, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, psychologists, social workers, and a dietician, addresses all aspects of the patients’ needs—from the physical to the psychological to the social. The patient, the staff, and the patient’s family form a network, Dr. Schwartz explains.And they become a family.
By the same token, Dr. Schwartz notes that rehabilitation research “is always personal.”
The rehabilitation team investigates what specific interventions would be best to restore an individual patient’s mobility, as well as social and cognitive functioning.For example, she reports, the staff followed up with victims of terror and individuals who suffered traumatic injuries as a result of car accidents and the like. Their research revealed that victims of terror needed to be in treatment longer; they had more complications and more often experienced secondary effects—both physical and psychological.Consequently, the terror victims required follow-up for a longer time period.
One patient that Dr. Schwartz remembers vividly is a teenage terror victim. The young woman’s legs were terribly lacerated, with metal fragments lodged within them.She also suffered from multiple bone fractures. The teen endured more than 10 surgeries.“Hadassah’s orthopedic and vascular surgeons saved her life,” Dr. Schwartz reports.
When she arrived in the rehabilitation unit, however, she was totally distraught. Her spirit was destroyed, she said. In the beginning, she could not move her legs. But, slowly, she progressed—despite developing post-traumatic stress syndrome.Eventually, she returned to school and got her master’s degree. She also got married.“Every year,” Dr. Schwartz reports, “she comes to Hadassah to thank us.”
Hadassah’s successes “have an impact on terror victims around the world,” says Dr. Schwartz, “because we publish our findings. We collaborate with colleagues in America who work with patients in this field.”
The rehabilitation department also analyzes the impact of robotic gait devices on patients who are struggling to walk. The team has found, for example, that the Lokomat (a robotic system which includes a harness, a specialized treadmill, and a mechanical system that moves the patient’s legs), in combination with traditional physical therapy, has helped patients who have severe difficulty walking independently. Stroke victims, individuals with multiple sclerosis, and those with spinal cord injuries, who were not able to walk at all before treatment, can now walk by themselves.
One young woman who has benefited from the gait laboratory was a victim of a brain hemorrhage. When she was transferred into the rehabilitation unit, she could neither move nor communicate, except with her husband through small gestures or eye movements.With the help of Hadassah’s rehabilitation team, one year later she was able to speak. Her walking ability, however, was still very limited.Following many assessments and treatments, including injections to reduce spasticity and the use of an orthodic brace to help her put weight on her leg, she was still unable to walk by herself. She then received further evaluation in the department’s gait laboratory. It was decided that she needed another surgery to correct her tendons and muscles to enable her to put sufficient weight on her legs. She is now walking independently!
Dr. Schwartz’ dream is to create specific programs for each chronically disabled population, such as those with cerebral palsy. Her goal is to be able to assess their needs and create personal plans to restore their abilities. To date, Hadassah has developed three such programs—a center for post-polio patients, a center for multiple sclerosis patient rehabilitation, and the gait laboratory. “With the help of Hadassah’s donors,” she notes, “I believe we can help all disabled people in Israel.”
Currently, the rehabilitation department cares for 450 inpatients annually and 100 patients every week in its day care program. “Rehabilitation medicine is unique,” Dr. Schwartz comments.
“It is more than medicine.”
With Interventional Cardiologist Prof. Chaim Lotan at its helm, the Hadassah Medical Center's Heart Institute is pioneering new techniques for saving heart attack victims and replacing valves, investigating risk factors for heart disease among Arab and Jewish women, and taking center stage in promoting healthy lifestyles for a healthy heart.
The Heart Institute's Director: Prof. Chaim Lotan
Celebrating his 13th ("Bar Mitzvah") year as the Chair of the Heart Institute, Prof. Chaim Lotan is actually also celebrating 40 years with Hadassah. Prof. Lotan began his affiliation as a student at the Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Medicine.
The child of Holocaust survivors from Chernovitz, Romania, Prof. Lotan recalls that he always admired doctors as a child—their "dignity, their importance, and their honor." When the Germans occupied their homeland, his family was moved into a ghetto. His mother was one of the few who survived typhus and the hard labor. In the 1950s, his family immigrated to Israel, where Prof. Lotan served as a paratrooper in the Israel Defense Forces' prestigious Golani Brigade.
Cardiac medicine attracted him early on in his medical career. As he explains, the beginning of the 1980s brought a revolution in cardiology--with the introduction of minimally invasive procedures like angioplasty and other catheterizations. He realized that the cutting-edge of medicine overall and particularly cardiology was at Hadassah. And, he says, it has remained that way. That's why Prof. Lotan has never left, noting that if he really wanted to be on the cutting edge, "Hadassah was his place!"
Prof. Lotan decided to become an interventional cardiologist. His renowned career at Hadassah included serving as head of the Catheterization Laboratory before becoming head of the Institute. His is a true Hadassah family, with his wife, Dorit, a nurse in charge of Internal Medicine A; his son, a psychiatrist at Hadassah; and his son's wife, also a doctor at Hadassah, specializing in genetics.
When asked recently what his dream was, he replied: "My dream is that we will be able to keep the hospital at the same level that I found it as a student. For me, there was the world of medicine, there were hospitals, and at the top of the hill was Hadassah."
In the l980s, Hadassah, finding that a blood clot (a thrombus) was obstructing the coronary artery, began dissolving the thrombus with streptokinase. "Hadassah was the first in the world to introduce this clot-busting procedure," Prof. Lotan relates. "The first papers in the medical literature at that time," he says, "were from Hadassah."
Hadassah then introduced the idea to begin the procedure in the ambulance. It used to be that mortality rates from heart attacks were 15 to 20 percent, Prof. Lotan reports. Then came the new medications, he says, and mortality dropped to 10 percent. "We thought that was excellent," he added. Today, with catheterization, it has dropped to 2.5%!
Realizing that to save a heart patient's life it is crucial to get the patient to the Catheterization Lab as soon as possible, Hadassah introduced the protocol of having the patient brought straight from the ambulance to the catheterization lab, rather than to the emergency room first. In this way, it can be less than an hour from the first moment a patient experiences heart pain to the time an interventional cardiologist opens his artery. As a result, mortality rates drop significantly and damage to the heart muscle is minimized.
When Prof. Lotan's father had a heart attack at age 76 and his local hospital was afraid to treat him because of his age, Prof. Lotan had him brought to Hadassah, where he was given a quadruple bypass that saved his life. Years later, his father experienced weakness in his legs and hand and Hadassah's physicians found that the weakness was caused by narrowing of an artery to the brain. They performed another successful operation and he lived to the age of 94. "I owe his life to Hadassah," Prof. Lotan comments.
Hadassah's Heart Institute cares for patients throughout the life span--from fetus to senior citizen. Its specialists provide solutions to heart problems from congenital malformations, to heart disease, valve degeneration, and heart failure. Prof. Lotan relates that Hadassah performed a catheterization and operation on a man who was over 100 years old.
The patient population and staff are diverse, mirroring the diversity in Jerusalem. Just recently an Arab nurse treated a Chief Rabbi of Israel in Hadassah's Intensive Care Unit, Prof. Lotan says.
Research at the Heart Institute
As people begin to live longer, new challenges face cardiologists--for example, diseases of the aortic valve, the valve between the left ventricle of the heart and the aorta, which is the largest artery in the body and carries the entire output of blood. Aortic problems typically surface in the eighth or ninth decade of life. Aortic stenosis, where the opening to the aortic valve narrows and restricts blood flow, is a common problem. Hadassah is conducting a large research study on aortic stenosis. Its physicians have developed a unique animal model that simulates aortic stenosis and are now researching various treatments.
One treatment done at Hadassah and in only a few other centers in the world is the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) procedure, whereby the valve is replaced through a catheter--without opening the chest. To date, over 200 TAVI interventions have been done. "That's a revolution," says Prof. Lotan. Another innovation is Hadassah's Heart Failure and Heart Muscle Disease Center, which reaches out into the community to bridge the gap between hospital-based and community-based medicine. Through this Center, Hadassah physicians with expertise in managing heart failure travel to various local clinics to consult with family physicians on the more difficult patients.
At the same time, Hadassah's Heart Institute has opened several other clinics in the community in order to efficiently and effectively treat patients with heart disease. These clinics have significantly decreased visits to the emergency room as well as hospital stays and proven much less expensive. Hadassah is now a role model for the country in treating heart disease in this fashion.
Preventive Health and Community Outreach
Thanks to a major grant from Psychotherapist Irene Pollin, Founder and Chair of Sister to Sister, a 13-year-old organization devoted to preventing heart disease in women, Hadassah recently created the Linda Joy Pollin Cardiovascular Wellness Institute--a major vehicle for reaching and influencing the community about heart disease risk factors. Prof. Lotan recalls that he served on a committee of the Ministry of Health investigating the death of a young woman who died of a massive heart attack. She had been seen by three doctors that day--a primary physician, the doctor in the ambulance, and a hospital physician. All of them dismissed her severe chest pain. They told her to take pain killers. That night, she died. Prof. Lotan brings out that the public perception, promoted by the medical community, is that women are protected from heart disease. But, he notes, this is not the case. He feels it is his mission and responsibility to change that perception and raise awareness among women and physicians that women need to take steps to reduce their risk factors for heart disease--the number one killer of women. His message is: "Don't leave risk factors untreated; Don't leave the heart unexamined."
At the same time, women need to stop ignoring chest pain, Prof. Lotan notes. Data reveal that women reach the hospital one hour later than men following the onset of chest pain.
Through its new Pollin Wellness Institute, Hadassah has begun a major community outreach--particularly to the ultra-religious and Arab communities, whose populations are at higher than average risk for heart disease. These groups have a high rate of diabetes, hypertension, and obesity; smoking is prevalent among the husbands, which exposes their spouses to second-hand smoke. When you look at the Arab women's coronary arteries through catheterization, you see that the heart disease is much more advanced, much more diffuse for their age than among Jewish women.
Hadassah is proposing to approach the community and try to get Arab women to modify their risk factors--to check their blood pressure and change food habits, for example. In discussing the problem with colleagues from Arab countries, Prof. Lotan has found that they face the same high heart disease burden among the women.
At the same time, Prof. Lotan stresses the need to reach the teenagers--especially the girls--because they are going to be the mothers of the future and influence the next generation.
"The model we are building here is transferable to other countries," Prof. Lotan brings out. "And there is no one better to help us share our message and model than Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America and Hadassah International."
"The research and clinical work that is being done here," relates Prof. Lotan, "has impacted the lives of thousands of people in Israel and worldwide." He notes how gratifying it is to run into someone who says to him, "You saved my life 20 years ago." What keeps him going, he says, is saving a life. "There's nothing more sacred."
Dear Hadassah Family,
It has been two months since I began serving as Director General of the Hadassah Medical Organization; two months of concentrated effort, two months of difficult decisions and two months of continuing to learn more about the Medical Center.
During these two months, I have often thought about my very personal connection to Hadassah and the tremendous impact its life-saving treatment and groundbreaking research has had on my life and the lives of people I love. Almost everyone I know or meet has a "Hadassah story." Mine centers on a close relative, a 26-year-old I will call Yael, who had been married a year when all this took place.
For Americans, July 4th is an especially meaningful date; for this Israeli, it is as well. On July 4th 1990, Yael received a bone marrow transplant from her younger sister at Hadassah. It was the only possible cure for her very aggressive cancer of the blood and bone marrow. There was – and still is – no treatment for her disease. Bone marrow transplantation from a matching donor was – and still is – the only hope.
Before the transplant even took place, Yael received high doses of chemotherapy and radiation of her entire body to prepare her for the procedure. Probably the most significant aspect of the preparation treatment was an innovative new technique that was developed by Hadassah's bone marrow transplant team. Called total lymphoid irradiation, it was administered to generate a novel way of suppressing her immune system to help ensure that her body would not reject her sister's cells.
To also help prevent the severe post-transplant complication known as graft versus host disease (GVHD), Yael was enrolled in an unusual clinical trial where the bone marrow she was about to receive was treated before it was transplanted. Hadassah's unique approach was recognized by the scientific world as T-cell repletion therapy for the induction of Graft vs. Leukemia effect.
The transplant and subsequent innovative cell therapy entirely eliminated Yael's aggressive leukemia. After 80 days of hospitalization at Hadassah, we were overjoyed when this now healthy young woman returned home. And although it was considered a highly unlikely possibility, she subsequently became pregnant and gave birth to a healthy child; a miracle that was followed by the birth of two more healthy children.
A little over a year ago, a seven-year-old girl's life was saved with another Hadassah innovative procedure – an outgrowth of outstanding research on the use of enhanced placental-derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) to combat Graft-versus-Host Disease. That achievement was followed by two other successful procedures – on a young woman and a 45-year-old man. Prof. Reuven Or, Head of our Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cancer Immunology, received special permission from the Ministry of Health to administer the vital treatment, which is based on Hadassah research and ongoing collaboration with Pluristem Therapeutics, an Israeli biotech company.
"One of the many obstacles to bone marrow transplantation is still GVHD," he says. "Once it develops it is very difficult to treat. I believe that the use of MSCs to treat resistant GVHD is a breakthrough that will move us forward. The current treatment, the use of immune suppressants, is very toxic and opens the door to very invasive infections." Using MSCs that were produced at Hadassah in Prof. Or's lab, the concept was tested and proved in 2007.
"The placenta is a miraculous machine of nature," Prof. Or says, pointing out that it allows the ultimate mismatch of foreign bodies, the introduction of a fetus into the mother's womb. "The placenta supports building the body tissue and inducing immuno-modulation to prevent rejection," he explains.
Last month, Prof. Or and his team announced another research breakthrough. In a project conducted with Yale University and Bio-Incept, an American biotechnology company, they proved that a peptide released by a fetus during pregnancy effectively prevents GVHD in mice, following a bone marrow transplant. The peptide, labeled "pre-implantation factor" (PIF), is released during its early stages of development, enabling it to become safely implanted in the mother's uterus. Prof. Or and his team have already proved that the peptide treatment has no toxic or negative side effects in healthy animals and are now preparing to conduct clinical trials in humans. This research complements other studies conducted by the Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation that demonstrated the effectiveness of the peptide in preventing diabetes and central nervous system inflammation.
I joined you in the Hadassah family so that together we could continue to do what we do best – provide outstanding patient care and produce lifesaving medical research for all the Yaels' in the world.
Avigdor Kaplan, PhD
Launched in 2011, Hadassah Medical Organization's Marom Medical Fellowship program for young physicians aims to position those with research aspirations to get the training they need to pursue a clinical research career and thereby ensure the strong future for research at Hadassah.
Supported by an endowment fund, Marom (which is the Hebrew term for "sky high") will create a cohort of young physician/researchers and provide protected time for them to do research during their residency or when they return from a fellowship abroad. The first fellows come from the departments of pediatrics, nephrology, cardiothoracic surgery, gynecology, and microbiology.
The Hadassah Medical Organization's Geriatric Unit--unique in Israel--was created to assess the needs of the frail elderly and provide them with the holistic care they need.
The Unit was launched in 1991 thanks to a significant gift from the Bessie and Louis Stein Foundation. Mr. Stein, of Philadelphia, was an advocate of this new approach to caring for the elderly and his daughter, Ruth Nathanson, has maintained the family support of the Unit now that her parents have passed away. The Unit is comprised of an inpatient geriatric consultation team, an outpatient clinic, and a research laboratory. The multidisciplinary team includes three physicians--all specialists in internal as well as geriatric medicine--two nurses, a social worker, a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist, and a dietician. As necessary, the staff consults with other specialists, particularly psychiatrists and neurologists.
The goal of the team is to reach as many elderly patients as possible. Therefore, unlike most such units elsewhere in the world, Hadassah's Geriatric Unit initiates contact with most elderly patients in the hospital, rather than rely on referrals. Its staff assesses the medical, functional, social, cognitive, and mental needs of these patients (mainly aged 75 and over), and then formulates a personalized program of care.
To ensure that the influence of the Geriatric Unit is widespread, the geriatric specialists are automatically informed when an elderly patient is admitted to the hospital. Using a structured questionnaire, the staff gathers information about the patient. Then, the staff performs a geriatric assessment, based on the person’s responses to this initial questionnaire. Next, the team makes recommendations to the staff on the hospital ward about optimal care for this patient. These recommendations become a part of the patient’s discharge papers and, when the patient leaves the hospital, he or she is given a copy. Another copy is sent to the patient’s family practitioner.
The Outpatient Clinic is open once a week. Physicians in the community send their patients to the clinic for a functional evaluation, a patient will come in for a follow-up consultation once leaving the hospital, or an elderly individual may just come in for help on his own. The entire geriatric team will examine this patient and provide recommendations, just as the specialists do when the individual is an inpatient.
The Geriatric Unit team also teaches at the Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Medicine and the School of Nursing, giving lectures as well as providing clinical teaching. They also make themselves available for presentations to the public within the local community.
Since 1994, there has been a residency program in geriatrics at Hadassah, with the goal of creating academic geriatric specialists who will become leaders in this field. In addition, the Geriatric Unit team has designed a comprehensive, 60-hour multidisciplinary gerontology/geriatrics course for hospital professionals, through which they have educated over 100 participants.
Every other year, the Geriatric Unit hosts an International Geriatric Conference on Aging in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, where professionals in the region exchange ideas and expertise and discuss the health challenges faced by the elderly. The Unit’s particular research focus is aging and atherosclerosis, from the perspective of molecular and biochemical changes. For example, they are investigating the expression of a particular protein in patients with dementia or traumatic brain injury. They are also looking into a gene mutation as it may affect a person’s risk for developing cardiovascular disease and vascular dementia.
The Geriatric Unit team is also engaged in various clinical research projects. The Ministry of Retirees awarded the Unit a grant to investigate delirium among the hospitalized elderly, in cooperation with the Department of Social Work Services, the Psychiatric Department, and the Department for Internal Medicine C. In another study, the Geriatric Unit is helping to assess the impact of having a migrant live-in home care worker stay with the elderly patient during hospitalization. The geriatric specialists are looking into the potential conflicts associated with the workers’ presence in the hospital as well as their participation in the medical management of the elderly patient.
Because of their extensive knowledge and experience in assessing and treating elderly adults who are at risk for mistreatment, either at home or while in institutional care, the Geriatric Unit team collaborates with health care professionals in both the hospital and the community to detect elder abuse and intervene when the elderly are mistreated.
French Baritone Opera Virtuoso David Serero performed in the atrium of the Hadassah Medical Center's Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower on July 18.
Often playing leading roles in operas and musicals, the internationally acclaimed singer has given over 600 performances. Once again, he entertained at Hadassah, with no charge, fulfilling his promise to give recitals at the hospital whenever he is in Israel. Mr. Serero sang Broadway musicals and arias by Mozart, Verdi, and Bizet and other songs from around the world.
The president of Young Hadassah France, Mr. Serero particularly enjoys performing at Hadassah because of the multicultural nature of its patients and staff. The diverse audience of all ages enthusiastically sang along with him.
Update: July 22, 2013
Maria Aman is now breathing on her own: Read about it in The Jerusalem Post
July 19, 2013
"Her injuries are forever, for the rest of her life," Hamdi Aman of Gaza said six years ago of his daughter, Maria.
Yet, overcoming international obstacles and a lack of medical resources, Hadassah doctors teamed up with a Columbia University Medical Center specialist to perform life-changing surgery to enable Maria to breathe for the first time in seven years.
In 2006, then four-year-old Maria was severely wounded and became a quadriplegic, unable to breathe independently. With Palestinian hospitals in Gaza unable to treat her and doctors in Israel deeming her a "unique case," Maria was treated in an Israeli hospital and then sent to rehabilitation at the Alyn Woldenberg Family Hospital in Jerusalem. Since then, she has been hooked up to a respirator, using her chin to operate a wheelchair. Israeli doctors determined the only way to improve her condition was with surgery that involved technology, equipment, and expertise unavailable in Israel.
Prof. Raphael Udassin, head of pediatric surgery at Hadassah, contacted Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgical Specialist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, Mark Ginsburg, who is an expert in the surgery. Over a matter of months, the two arranged for the appropriate equipment's transfer to Hadassah and the permissions for use in an Israeli hospital. They then arranged for the surgery.
Dr. Ginsberg came to Israel to perform the surgery, with Prof. Udassin and Hadassah's Dr. Uzi Yizhar as his surgical team. The surgery required that two pacemaker electrodes be implanted beneath the breast on the phrenic nerve, which regulates the diaphragm.
After a successful surgery, Maria is now back in Alyn Hospital to recover. She will return to Hadassah for follow-up next month. By August, doctors predict she will be off her respirator, able to breathe independently.
Musab Alafandi stands over his son's crib, checking on his breathing.
Since he was born more than a year ago, Abdul Nasser has lived most of his life in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) of Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center at Ein Kerem. Now, because of generous friends in Australia, through the interfaith Rozana Project, the enormous expense of his son's hospital care has been greatly lessened.
***Musab and Majd Alafandi were a young couple with everything to look forward to: they'd met through a cousin and had fallen in love right away. They married, and were delighted to be expecting their first child. They were living with Musab's family in a village near Jerusalem, aiming to save up for their own place.
Then their world turned upside down.
Madj went to Ramallah for a routine ultrasound scan at 20 weeks. She could see something was wrong by the look on the doctor's face. He shook his head. He said he was sorry, and that their baby had extremely serious heart defects and would die before or immediately after birth. Madj was shocked, devastated, and scared.
"I was very sad, too," said Musab, "but I tried to be there for my wife."
They sought a second opinion in the Al Mukassed Islamic Charitable Society Hospital in Jerusalem. The cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons agreed that their unborn baby's heart was malformed.
Yet, at Hadassah Hospital, even such a complicated case had a chance, they were told. The doctors at Al Mukassed had excellent connections with their colleagues at Hadassah, and advised the couple to make arrangements to give birth and to receive prenatal and postnatal care there.
"We'd never been to Hadassah, but of course, we'd heard of it. Just the name gave us confidence," said Musab. "Suddenly, we both had hope. Life was not quite so bleak."
At Hadassah Hospital's Ein Kerem campus, the baby was delivered by C-section to prevent any stress of a regular birth. They named him Abdul Nasser for his paternal grandfather. He was handsome and a good size: 3.4 kilos (7 pounds, 8 ounces).
But, he had to be rushed to the premature baby unit immediately to be supervised carefully until surgery.
The surgeon warned the parents that the risk was substantial: "His diagnosis was single ventricle (which means one pumping chamber instead of two) and congenital heart block (the electrical system of the heart is broken). Patients like him often don't survive the complicated surgery he would undergo," said Cardiac Surgeon Dr. Eldad Erez.
Abdul Nasser survived the surgery and was transferred afterward to the PICU, where intravenous lines and ventilators were attached to monitor his every function. Day and night, doctors and nurses helped fight back infection and ensured he was getting air and food.
"The bad news was that in addition to his troubled heart, this baby had very sick lungs," said Dr. Philip Toltzis, head of the PICU. "That's a tough combination to cope with."
"It was touch and go," said Musab. "We were warned several times to prepare for the worst, but every time our little boy pulled through, with the help of the staff. He was a fighter, and so were the doctors and nurses." On the Jewish dress-up holiday of Purim, the staff dressed Abdel Nasser in a cute beetle costume. And when he turned one, everyone in the unit celebrated his birthday. "He's always getting presents from the nurses and staff," said Musab.
And then, months into Abdul Nasser's care, as he breathed through a mechanical ventilator inserted through his trachea, one resident noticed the sick little boy was smiling. He pulled out his phone camera, and showed it around the unit like a proud uncle.
"That was a turning point," said Dr. Toltzis. "You can't believe how happy and encouraged that smile made us."
"There was absolutely no difference in how our son was treated in the PICU from the way the Jewish children were treated," said Musab. "He was perhaps pampered more because the staff knew we were a little further from home and the grandparents couldn't often come. Nearly everyone speaks some Arabic, and many are fluent. We never have any trouble communicating."
"Seeing Abdul Nasser alive, getting well and smiling makes us joyous, and keeps us in the PICU family doing what we do," said Dr. Toltzis. "That's why we're here, in intensive care. For us, it wouldn't have mattered what his background was, but we do have an additional sense of satisfaction that problems of area politics have not stood in the way of success."
And now, Abdel Nasser is indeed getting ready to go home. He'll need additional surgery, but not for a while. Said his dad, "We can't thank you enough—the hospital and the good people in faraway Australia for their support. We want to help in any way possible so that more children can take advantage of the life-saving care. "
Published May 20, 2013
With entertainment by the children of the Shalva School Chorus Band, in front of the Eli Douer and Family Center for Pediatric Genetic and Chronic Diseases on Hadassah Hospital-Mount Scopus, a groundbreaking was celebrated for the new Healing and Environmental Garden, a gift from Australians, Jack and Robert Smorgon and their families, along with other supporters of Hadassah Australia and Jewish National Fund.
The garden was spearheaded by a partnership between Hadassah Australia and Kerem Kayemet L'Yisroel (KKL)/Jewish National Fund (JNF) Australia "to provide a sanctuary of calm, of light, of beauty, for those children who are facing serious, long-term illness, so that they can connect with nature, sit under a blue sky with family and friends, and leave a troubled world behind--even for just a few minutes a day."
The Jack and Robert Smorgon Families Foundation provided the $500,000 keystone donation that launched the campaign and captured the hearts of Australian donors. During the ceremony, the sign that will be posted at the site throughout construction was unveiled, announcing: "The Jack and Robert Smorgon Families Healing and Environmental Garden is being built on this location."
On hand for the momentous occasion were: Director of Hadassah Hospital-Mount Scopus Dr. Osnat Levtzion-Korach; Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat; Australia's Ambassador to Israel Andrea Faulkner; Keren Kayemeth Le'Yisroel (KKL)/Jewish National Fund (JNF) Director of Development Zeev Kedem; Director of the Hadassah Office in Israel Audrey Shimron; Sir Ian Gainsford, representing Hadassah International and Hadassah Australia; Prof. Isaiah Wexler of Hadassah's Pediatrics Department; and Dr. Shmuel Harris, a psychiatrist at Hadassah-Mount Scopus and member of the Smorgon family, who made Aliyah from Melbourne, Australia.
Once the special scroll, marking the gift and the occasion, was signed by all the participants and placed in a time capsule, Mayor Barkat lowered it for burial in the ground at the site.
Sixty years after the women of Hadassah, the Hebrew University, and Alpha Omega International Fraternity opened the first dental school in Israel, hundreds of dentists, oral surgeons, and researchers from Israel and abroad celebrated the achievements of the Hebrew University-Hadassah Faculty of Dental Medicine and its role in building bridges to peace.
“From its modest beginning in 1953 with 12 enthusiastic students beginning a six-year journey toward obtaining their dental degrees,” notes Prof. Adam Stabholz, Dean, “our School of Dental Medicine has had a profound impact on the quality of dental care, teaching, and research in Israel.”
With the theme of “Striving for Excellence in Dental Education and Research,” the celebration featured lectures by internationally renowned experts from Israel, Europe, and the United States, as well as up-and-coming young researchers. For example, Prof. Bruce Donoff, Dean of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, highlighted the growing awareness of oral health in the developing world, where children often suffer from malnutrition as a result of dental problems. “Because of its location and experience in outreach,” he noted, “the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Medicine can play a key role in this important work.”
Speaking at the celebration’s opening dinner, Hadassah National Board Member Mady Donoff (Prof. Donoff’s wife), reminded the participants that the 1918 American Zionist Medical Unit sent to Israel by Hadassah was headed by a dentist, Dr. Eliahu Lewin-Epstein. “The generation to generation connection,” she noted, “continued when his son, Jack Lewin-Epstein became dean of the dental school.”
A highlight for the participants was the Middle East Symposium in Dental Medicine, “Building Bridges of Understanding Through Dental Medicine,” under the auspices of the D. Walter Cohen, DDS, Middle East Center for Dental Education, with its opening session at Al-Quds University in Abu Dis, in the Palestinian Authority. In the presence of Professors Cohen, Stabholz, and Musa Bajali, Dean of Al-Quds University School of Dental Medicine, a magnificent bronze Tree of Peace sculpture was dedicated on the plaza in front of the dental school. According to Designer/Artist Hedva Ser from France, the sculpture represents peace, health, and hope. The tree contains the Hebrew letter, Shin, representing the word shalom, and a dove sitting on a branch. Also entwined in the trunk and branches are the Hebrew letters for chai, which means “life.”
The first Tree of Peace sculpture stands on Hadassah Hospital’s Ein Kerem campus. Others have been inaugurated at Temple University in Philadelphia and the A.T. Still Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health in Mesa, Arizona.
Dental Faculty Highlights
Dear Hadassah Family,
At the beginning of May, I was appointed Director General of the Hadassah Medical Organization. At the beginning of June, I moved into my new office and assumed a broad range of challenging responsibilities, among them, a serious financial crisis.
Many people have asked why I took on this position and these challenges at this rather senior stage in my life and my career. My reasons are both personal and professional. Like most Israelis, I have long considered Hadassah to be the jewel in the crown of Israeli medicine. My background in the health sciences and my years of management in related positions, only reaffirmed my conviction.
I agreed to become Director General of the Hadassah Medical Organization because I deeply believe that with a balanced approach, by the end of 2014 we will have overcome the current financial situation. By streamlining our efforts to achieve reasonable running costs, I am convinced that soon we will able to strengthen our investment in HMO's infrastructure, research and medical innovations.
But before we can look to tomorrow, we must address today's realities. We must determine what we need to fix, what we can fix and what we must learn to live with.
Israel's national health insurance law ensures that all Israeli residents receive a wide variety of medical services and procedures. They are probably among the most comprehensive in the world and among the lowest in cost to the population. However, in an effort to maintain this status, as the law is now administered, it forces hospitals to either decrease services or to provide them as usual and assume substantial debt. The few Israeli hospitals like Hadassah that are owned by non-profit organizations suffer the most from this policy.
We can lobby the government to revise its payment policy, which I don't think will happen in the near future, but the government is not the only entity responsible. Some of our problems can be resolved by taking a long, hard look at ourselves and how we function.
Hadassah has many Centers of Excellence staffed by physicians that are among the finest in Israel. Despite the difficulties, Hadassah continues to be a leader in research, education and clinical services. We are already considered among the top university research hospitals in the world and I know we can be even better. I believe that many of the research projects underway, especially those in the earliest stages, have the potential to achieve major breakthroughs in the decade ahead. However, we must attain a balance.
For some time now, Israeli healthcare providers have disregarded what I call "the patient experience." We must provide good service as well as good medical care throughout our entire Medical Center. But equally important, our patients must feel they have received good service; that the doctors and nurses have taken the time to interact with them individually and personally. While this may sound trivial and trite, I believe our patients must leave Hadassah with the feeling that they have been embraced with a warm hug. We have to invest extra effort to enhance patient satisfaction. It is an essential component of "Hadassah's human touch."
Other measures we will be forced to take will involve more than changing a mindset and will probably result in difficulties and disagreements. Yet, I know that if we fully cooperate and conduct ourselves with personal and professional transparency, we will achieve our goals.
The women of Hadassah and the men, the members of Hadassah's impressive organization throughout the United States and throughout the world, are doing a magnificent job. They always have and I believe they always will. I am quite certain that if their impact and investment could be calculated in dollars and cents, we would learn that they have contributed more to the healthcare system in Israel and pre-State Israel than all the other hospitals in Israel combined.
For me, ensuring the glory of Hadassah is a national mission as well as a personal one. It is essential for the glory of the State of Israel. It is vital for the hundreds of thousands of patients who depend on HMO and for our dedicated employees who make that possible. I know that with your understanding and support, and our mutual devotion to Hadassah, we will be successful.
Avigdor Kaplan, PhD
A delegation of Chinese health officials, led by Professor Xiaochun Chen, Deputy Director-General of the Provincial Department of Health of Hunan Province, which has more than 75 million citizens, visited Hadassah Medical Organization at Ein Kerem on Sunday.
On their first trip to Israel, the doctors and administrators asked to see the hospital, and to gain insight into Israel's medical achievements.
Professor Chen completed medical school in Beijing and later graduated from Johns Hopkins Medical Center's School for Public Health. He was particularly interested in the vision of Baltimorean Henrietta Szold, and the connection between American Jewry and the Israel medical center.
They visited the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and met with Dr. Philip Toltzis who heads the unit about medical care for Jews and Palestinians, and toured the healing gardens and Orthopedic unit of the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Tower.
The visit to the Abbell Synagogue with its Chagall Windows was the first time they had ever been in a synagogue. One of the visiting physicians heads a hospital with over 4000 beds. Another was an obstetrician who was interested in the large number of babies which many Jerusalem women have in contrast to their Chinese contemporaries. The visitors heard about Hadassah's advances in genetics and the special challenges of Hadassah's unique blend of modern medicine and traditional patients.
Dozens of researchers from different countries participated in a seminar at Hadassah Medical Organization presented by Hadassah's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, as part of a Society for Gynecological Investigation (SGI) conference, which took place in Israel for the first time.
The seminar featured lectures by Hadassah's senior obstetricians and gynecologists, highlighting research studies that have therapeutic implications. Among the world-renowned presenters was Prof. Benjamin Reubinoff, head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Hadassah University Hospital-Ein Kerem and Director of the Center for Embryonic Stem Cell Research. Prof. Reubinoff discussed the latest innovations in embryonic stem cell research. Dr. David Shveiky described the increasing use of robotics in gynecological procedures and Dr. Yuval Gielchinsky spoke about laser surgery that is performed on fetuses.
The three-day conference, chaired by Prof. Simcha Yagel, head of the Division of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Hadassah, included other lectures and discussion groups led by these physicians, along with presentations by a number of additional leading Hadassah researchers in the field of reproduction. Prof. Yagel spoke about the importance of heparin as a possible treatment for pre-eclampsia and eclampsia (a life-threatening complication of pregnancy). Prof. Benjamin Reubinoff led a discussion about the use of stem cells in the field of reproduction. Prof. Ariel Revel spoke about fertility preservation and Prof. Neri Laufer, former head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, led a discussion following a lecture by Dr. Gielchinsky concerning reproductive aging. Prof. Drorith Hochner, head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Hadassah University Hospital on Mount Scopus, discussed giving birth following an anal sphincter tear and Dr. Shveiky discussed the rate of perineal tears in young mothers.
Many of the international conference participants expressed great interest in collaborating with Hadassah's physician/researchers on their innovative studies.
Placental cells, Hadassah Medical Organization researchers have shown, were successful in mitigating acute radiation-induced complications in mice when transplantation was initiated 24 hours following total body irradiation.
The research team from Hadassah's Biotechnology and Radiobiology Laboratory at the Sharett Institute of Oncology studied two types of placental cells--pure maternal cell preparations (PLX-Mat) and a mixture of maternal ¬and fetal derived cells (PLX-RAD), developed by Pluristem Therapeutics, a leading developer of placenta-based cell therapies. Using intramuscular (IM) injections, they were able to overcome the difficulty experienced by other researchers whereby, with intravenous treatment, the stem cells became trapped mostly in the lungs immediately after administration. Rather, IM injections enabled them to easily deliver higher numbers of cells through multiple injections at different times.
Twenty four hours and five days after total body irradiation, the mice were treated with placental stromal cells (PLX). The researchers discovered that PLX-Mat increased the survival of the irradiation mice from 27 percent to 68 percent, while PLX-RAD cells increased the survival to 98 percent. The researchers found that they could delay the treatment with PLX-RAD up to 48 hours after irradiation with similar success. The study showed that the treated mice regained their weight significantly faster than did the few control survivors. Furthermore, the treatment stimulated extensive hematopoietic (blood producing) stem cell proliferation, which enabled the speedy recovery of the radiation-induced depleted bone marrow with a parallel increase in the number of circulating white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.
The authors conclude: "Our study suggests that IM treatment with PLX-RAD cells may serve as a highly effective 'off the shelf' therapy to treat bone marrow failure following total body exposure to high doses of radiation." These cells can be stored, delivered frozen, and then defrosted just before injection.
The researchers add that they expect the treatment may also have major applications for clinical conditions associated with severe bone marrow aplasia, where blood cell development is impaired.
Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center at Ein Kerem runs a support group for women who have had stillbirths--where a baby is born lifeless as a result of a miscarriage or a medically induced abortion.
Midwives from the hospital host five to six intimate group conversations in three to four support groups, hosted annually at the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem. During the meetings, the women share experiences and personal coping mechanisms in an effort to support one another and find closure.
"It is the only framework where we feel comfortable enough to express our true, painful feelings and grow out of this crisis," said one woman who participated.
Hollywood star Sharon Stone, a long-time activist to find a cure for AIDS, visited Hadassah Medical Organization in Ein Kerem today to meet with Prof. Dan Engelhard, head of Hadassah's Pediatric AIDS Center, which has developed an integrative method of treating children who are HIV positive in Israel and around the world.
Stone was greeted by representatives of Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, and said
"I believe in the work you do, one person at a time, building this wonderful place. I urge everyone to do whatever they can do to help Hadassah."
She made bedside visits to hospitalized children. At the bedside of a child infected with a serious and rare virus, she urged the grandmother "to hear the special thoughts of this child and to listen for the joy of the message he sends you."
"It's important not to make their memories all about loss and grieving. Each of us has a destiny to be with these children and to bring their messages forward in our lives," she said. She also met with the children and staff of the hospital school, who presented her with art projects and talked about her vision for Israel.
"I love Israel and I love all of you," she told them.
To reporters' questions about peace she answered, "We can choose peace in our own good hearts," said Stone. "Jews and Palestinians are already living together... It's like a marriage. You see people who are married a long time, and they're hugging and kissing, still, and they enjoy their children and grandchildren. Others are still together but they've spent their whole lives miserable, fighting and bickering. Blame is a waste of time. It's the coward's way. We can have peace now. We're going to make mistakes, but there are always mistakes in life."
About Israel's President Shimon Peres, Stone said: "He's 90 years old and he lives in the present and the future."
Stone was updated on Prof. Engelhard's work in Israel and in Ethiopia, where his involvement with five orphanages of children with AIDS has saved thousands of young lives. In a private part of the visit, Stone met and comforted teens and young adults who have grown up with HIV.
She listened to each story, encouraged the patients, gave life experience advice, embracing each one. She told one of the Hadassah patients, who is today a law student, "It's a gift for me to meet you. You can't imagine the frustration at the beginning of this struggle when we had nothing to offer, and no matter how hard we worked, we saw no results. To see you, bright and beautiful with a great future ahead is inspiring."
Read about it in the Times of Israel here>>
Read about it in the Jewish Telegraph Agency>>
Read about it in YNet News>>
See more photos in our album here>>
In 2005, an Israeli-France partnership formed "Heart for Peace," a program at Hadassah Medical Organization in Ein Kerem, which cares for Palestinian children suffering from severe heart disease, free of charge. Since its inception the association has raised funds to save the lives of over 500 Palestinian children in need of cardiac surgery.
In a show of support for the diplomatic and philanthropic program, Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe paid a visit to Hadassah's hospital on June 13 while on a trip to the region, meeting with Dr. Muriel Haim, president of the association, and Prof. Jean-Jacques Azaria Rein, head of Hadassah's Pediatric Cardiology Department.
Acting Director General Prof. Yuval Weiss escorted the mayor to the Pediatric Cardiology Department where Prof. Rein presented a report on "Heart for Peace" to the delegation, emphasizing the collaboration between his Palestinian and Israeli colleagues. Training and teaching Palestinians, he said, are key solutions to a bridge for peace between the peoples.
Mayor Delanoe and the delegation discussed finding appropriate ways to support the association and how to expand collaboration between Parisian and Israeli hospitals.
Researchers from the Hadassah University Medical Center's Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation, jointly with Yale University and BioIncept, an American-based biotechnology company, have discovered that a certain peptide released by a fetus during pregnancy, called a "pre-implantation factor" (PIF) is effective in preventing graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) in mice, following a bone marrow transplant.
Bone marrow transplants, performed to treat severe hematologic malignancies, the researchers explain, "often lead to potentially fatal, acute GVHD, despite attempts at better donor–recipient matching and/or use of immunosuppressive agents."
When a fetus releases PIF during its early stages of development (mainly during the first two trimesters), it enables the rooting of the fetus in its mother's uterus, regulating immune activity and preventing the mother's rejection of the fetus, without harming the mother's immune system. Given PIF's immune regulating properties and its effectiveness in developing maternal tolerance, it could logically have the potential to regulate the immune response in GVHD. In addition, the authors note that synthetic PIF treatment has proven effective in preventing immune attacks in nonpregnant models of autoimmunity.
In this study, the researchers transplanted bone marrow and spleen cells from donors into mice and then treated them with PIF for two weeks. Short-term PIF administration reduced acute GVHD and increased survival for up to four months following a transplant. This effect was coupled with decreased skin inflammation and decreased liver inflammation, as well as reduced colon ulceration--all without interfering with the positive effects of the transplant.
"Overall," the researchers concluded, "our data demonstrate that PIF protects against GVHD long term by reducing both target organ and systemic inflammation and by decreasing oxidative stress." This research joins other studies conducted by the Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation, which demonstrated the effectiveness of the peptide in preventing diabetes and central nervous system inflammation.
Since recent tests in the United States have successfully ruled out any toxic or negative side effects in healthy animals as a result of this peptide treatment, researchers can now take the next step and begin clinical trials in humans. According to Prof. Reuven Or, head of Hadassah's Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation, "In the next few months, Hadassah researchers will focus on preparing for the upcoming clinical trial and making sure we have all necessary documents and approvals in order to begin."Read the abstract in the Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation Journal>>
“Creativity and Health” was the theme for this year’s annual art exhibition, hosted for patients and the local community at Hadassah Hospital-Mount Scopus.
The exhibition, jointly sponsored with the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design and Haverut, features works by Hadassah patients and Bezalel students. Haverut, a non-profit organization, was established in memory of Ruth Ettun, who passed away from cystic fibrosis at age eleven.
The organization was founded by her mother, Rachel Ettun, in 2007, with the goal of enhancing medicine through a connection to spirituality, the creative world, and the community. Through this art program run by Haverut, Bezalel students and patients join together to create works of art, enabling the students to become a part of the patients’ healing process through art therapy.Read more on Hadassah International's website here>>
Injecting stem cells to treat severe fractures speeds up recovery, physicians in the Orthopedics Department of the Hadassah University Medical Center have demonstrated.
An article recently published in Molecular Therapy explains the research and clinical trial that was conducted over the past four years at Hadassah, under the direction of Prof. Meir (Iri) Liebergall, head of Orthopedics.
"A process that began 15 years ago eventually led to this clinical trial at Hadassah, the first of its kind in Israel," explains Prof. Liebergall. "The trial included 24 patients with severe pelvic fractures," he reports, noting that "this research is a medical breakthrough. Publication of this study and its findings will most likely change the currently accepted principles of treating complicated fractures. Now, we face the challenge of understanding this healing mechanism and how it works."
Four years ago, the Orthopedic Department at Hadassah began a clinical trial where fractures, which tend to heal slowly or not at all, were repaired with the help of the patient's stem cells. In this trial, for example, there was a fracture in the distal tibia, characterized by a scant layer of muscle tissue and bone support tissue, as well as reduced blood supply, all of which make recovery more complex.
The procedure involved extracting 50 mL of bone marrow and 100 mL of blood from the pelvic area, in close proximity to the injury. The blood and bone marrow were transferred to the laboratories where mesenchymal stem cells were isolated from the bone marrow and platelets were isolated from the blood sample. The patient was brought back to the operating room and the surgeon injected a solution of stem cells, platelets, and demineralized bone matrix (powder with different proteins that help bone growth) into the injury site.
According to Hadassah's specialists, this procedure shortened the recovery process from 6 to 12 months to 2-3 months.
The second annual Research Conference in memory of Dr. Ido Yatziv, former Director of Hadassah's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), highlighted studies conducted by residents, nurses and paramedical staff.
Dr. Yatziv, who was a key figure in establishing Hadassah's new PICU, passed away suddenly in December 2011. During the Conference, the Ido Yatziv Prize for Excellence in Patient-Doctor Relations was awarded to Dr. Tomer Tzur of the Department of Plastic Surgery for his outstanding compassion and dedication to his patience as well as professional distinction.
The Pediatric Division Award for Excellence in Research was awarded to Dr. Polina Stepensky, Senior Physician in the Pediatric Hemato-Oncology Department and Coordinator for pediatric bone marrow transplantations. Her research includes clinical trials of bone marrow transplantation among children and the development of new treatment methods; genetic diagnosis and characterization of immunological diseases; and characterization of the immunological function of congenital diseases of the immune system.
The Prize for Excellence in Nursing was awarded to Galit Copenhagen of the Pediatric Surgery Department. Recognized as a leader by her peers and managers, Ms. Copenhagen is respected for her devotion to raising the bar for professionalism in her department. Additionally, she has helped to promote the department's pain management project.
Among the topics discussed during the Conference were: nutrition among children, developing new diagnostic methods for treating children, the issue of pain management, and basic and clinical research dealing with common chronic and complex diseases in children.
The Nutrition and Diet Clinic of Hadassah Hospital- Mount Scopus is hosting a new self-help group for children who suffer from obesity and their parents.
The clinic aims to help children who engage in "emotional eating"--eating which is unrelated to hunger.
The goal is to lead these children to develop more self-awareness and alleviate their feelings of anxiety and guilt about their obesity through a change in behavioral patterns. In addition, children and their parents will learn about the consequences of childhood obesity during this eight-session program.
To spearhead a paradigm shift in Israeli pediatric care, Hadassah Medical Center Pediatrician Dr. Hava Gadassi trained for two and a half years at the Center for Community Child Health at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia.
Our goal, explains Dr. Gadassi, is to establish a Center for Community Child Health in Israel, based on the Australian model. The initial plan for this national project is to create a Child Health Center at Hadassah, which will provide clinical services for common childhood developmental and behavioral problems, as well as be an academic center for training pediatricians and conducting research. Hadassah has already opened two new clinics: one dealing with bed-wetting and soiling; another, addressing excessive crying and sleeping problems in babies.
The Center also plans to raise awareness among families and professionals who work with children about the importance of early identification and treatment of developmental and behavioral problems. Eventually, the Center will branch out to other parts of Israel and become a core part of community clinics.
Entitled the Goshen Project (named after the Tel Aviv restaurant where it was conceived in 2010), this initiative was propelled forward by Hadassah Australia President Ron Finkel and Internationally Renowned Australian Community Child Health Specialist Prof. Frank Oberklaid of Royal Children's Hospital. At that formative gathering in Tel Aviv, there was wide participation from Israel's leading pediatricians. These included leaders of hospital pediatric departments and pediatric associations, veteran pediatricians from various Israeli cities, representatives of Israel's health funds, and leaders of organization involved in child health care issues.
Goshen's primary intent, relates Dr. Gadassi, is to place more focus on childhood developmental and behavioral problems; to identify them early and address them—to ensure that children in need receive the right interventions.
During her fellowship, funded by Hadassah Australia under the tutelage of Prof. Frank Oberklaid, Founding Director and head of the Royal Children's Center for Community Child Health, Dr. Gadassi participated on multidisciplinary teams and gained clinical experience in managing common developmental and behavioral problems in infancy and childhood. In addition, she was exposed to current research projects and community work in the field of community child health.
"The whole concept of community child health in Australia is different from the one in Israel," Dr. Gadassi says. In Australia, she explains, children are first seen by a family physician and the pediatricians are secondary consultants. In Israel, in contrast, pediatricians are the primary caregivers, so the focus of their work is different.
Developmental and behavioral problems make up almost 50 percent of an Australian pediatrician's practice, Dr. Gadassi notes; in Israel, these issues are not typically dealt with in primary care community clinics. Instead, children are referred mainly to secondary or tertiary specialized centers or their problems are not dealt with at all by the available medical services.
Because of this disparity in paradigms, a pediatrician's training is different in Australia. Behavioral and developmental issues are a core part of their curriculum. In Israel, most of a pediatrician's training is hospital-based and these issues are given little attention, leaving the new pediatrician with few tools to address them within the local community. Currently, Dr. Gadassi relates, she and her team are working on a continuing education course for pediatricians that will cover common developmental and behavioral problems in infancy and early childhood. It is slated to begin enrolling pediatricians for October 2013.
A major component of Goshen's long-range plan is to forge connections with existing community facilities so that satellite childhood developmental clinics can be part of the amalgam of services communities provide.
The idea, comments Mr. Finkel, "is to take the pediatricians from a hospital-based practice out into the community, before a child is brought in to the pediatrician with a specific disease; to embed a pediatrician in the community." A pediatrician who is trained in comprehensive community child health, for example, would go out into the community and hold workshops for parents to raise their consciousness about whether their children need to be seen by behavioral/developmental specialists.
Furthering the collaboration between Hadassah and Australia in the field of pediatrics is the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed in the early part of this year between Hadassah and the Murdoch Children's Research Institute, the leading Australian research center in children's diseases.
"As this collaboration grows," comments Prof. Oberklaid, "there will be a two-way exchange of intellectual property and ideas between areas of research at Hadassah and at MCRI." The Goshen Project will be a key part of this collaboration.
For the first time in Israel, two toothless children, ages five and six, were given the ability to talk, chew solid food, and smile again, thanks to dental implants they received from multidisciplinary health professionals at the Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Dental Medicine.
The treatment, a joint effort of the Pediatric Dentistry Department, Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, and the Center for Maxillofacial Rehabilitation, is available in very few medical centers around the world.
The children suffer from ectodermal dysplasia, a rare genetic disease (with an incidence of 7 per 10,000 births), which affects the tissue that originates in the top skin layer--the ectoderm. The condition is characterized by a lack of nails, teeth, and sweat glands, as well as thin hair.
Traditionally, the accepted medical practice has been to wait until the child is grown and his tissues and bones are more stable before inserting implants. Because this disease, however, causes so many physiological and psychological challenges ---making it difficult for the child to speak optimally, chew effectively, and fit in with his peers--the experts felt it was urgent to intervene earlier.
After the children had a thorough clinical check-up, a radiographic evaluation to determine location and size for the implants, and a meeting with Prof. Joseph Shapira, head of the Pediatric Dental Department, regarding the procedure, Prof. Rephael Zeltser, head of the Department of Maxillofacial and Oral Surgery, fitted the implants and inserted them into the children's jaws. After the implants had a chance to settle in and the children had gotten used to them, the implant-supporting dentures were fitted by Dr. Eyal Terzi, Director of the Maxillofacial Rehabilitation Center.
While the adjustment period requires continuous work and patience to achieve the desired aesthetic and functional results, the children's substantial improvements in appearance, responsiveness to eating, and social interaction made it clear that the rehabilitative process was a huge success.
Dozens of laptops, videos, and CDs were donated to the Hadassah Medical Center's Department of Pediatrics for use by hospitalized children. The laptops were contributed by a number of businesses, as well as private donors.
"I consider this kind of contribution to be an important one," said Prof. Eitan Kerem, head of Hadassah's Pediatrics Division. "Thanks to these laptops, many of our young patients will be able to pass their time learning new things and reading new things while being entertained. This is especially important for children who are bed-ridden and cannot participate in the Hadassah School or join in the other activities that Hadassah Hospital offers our hospitalized children."
A few weeks ago, a 61-year-old Christian tourist from Russia died in Israel after a heart attack; her organs, though, lived to save two lives.
During a pilgrimage to the holy Christian sites in Israel, the woman suffered extensive brain damage and was immediately admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at the Hadassah Medical Organization. After numerous efforts to save her life were unsuccessful, she was pronounced brain dead.
Kyrill Grosovsky, the organ transplant coordinator at Hadassah, located the woman's two adult children in Russia and spoke with them. They decided to donate their mother's organs, and asked that their mother be buried in Jerusalem, as she was a religious woman and this would be something she would want.
Because of the organ transplants performed at Hadassah last week, a 55-year-old man suffering from Hepatitis B with a malignant liver tumor received a new liver. The recipient is a new immigrant, who had moved to Israel last August. He is currently recuperating in Hadassah Hospital Hospital-Ein Kerem's surgical ward.
Another patient, a 63-year-old man suffering from diabetes and hypertension, received a new kidney. He has already been released from the hospital. The organ transplants were performed simultaneously by Dr. Hadar Merhav, Director of the transplantation unit at Hadassah, and Dr. Abed Khalaileh and Dr. Muhammad Faroja.
Although it was not his responsibility, Grosovsky decided to make sure that the Russian woman received a dignified funeral. He embarked on a mission that became more challenging every hour.
The process took several days and included talks with various government authorities in Israel, but also in Russia and the Ukraine, as well as with various figures from the Greek Orthodox Church in Israel and in Russia. Grosovsky was able to attain all the necessary documents needed for the woman's burial.
The funeral took place a few days ago and a photograph of the woman's grave was sent to her family back in Russia. Hadassah also arranged for a wreath with the word "Hadassah" in Russian on it.
"This whole event emphasizes both the international and humane aspects of organ transplantation, as well as love for one's fellow man," said Dr. Merhav. "Hadassah is proud to be an institution that is open to all, regardless of religion, race or gender. The complexity of this situation also shows the need for multidisciplinary teams from all hospital departments with the ability to operate in real-time situations."
Soon-to-be parents, identified here by their first initial, wrote this note in appreciation of the treatment they received at Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center at Ein Kerem.
Because of mounting regional tension and rumors of chemical warfare in neighboring countries, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently announced a week of national emergency preparedness called Turning Point 7. This week, the Hadassah Medical Organization conducted a simulation warfare drill at Hadassah University Hospital on Mount Scopus to test its readiness for a large-scale chemical attack and its ability to treat dozens of patients in a short time span.
As part of the drill, the hospital was already "on alert" for a chemical attack when it began. All of the medical procedures were carried out using special equipment and the medical staff wore special protective clothing.
Approximately 115 "injured patients" were treated during the drill. The patients, played by soldiers and inflatable dummies, simulated various types of injuries that could possibly result from being hit by a chemical missile.
Specially dressed physicians and nurses admitted the patients outside the back gate of the hospital , and they were classified based on the type of injury they presented. Some of them, who were capable of walking, were considered "lightly wounded," while others, lying on special gurneys, were treated as "severely wounded." They were then taken by hospital staff to the supply yard, where decontamination stations, including respiratory units for the critically injured, had been set up. The staff working in the field then treated these patients.
After passing through the decontamination stations and being given initial care by teams of doctors and nurses, the patients were then moved to the "clean area" inside for follow-up treatment. The drill did not include the follow-up treatment, which would ordinarily take place inside the hospital during a chemical event.
Israel's Minister of Health, Yael German, Minister of the Home-Front Command, Gilad Erdan, and Hadassah National President Marcie Natan were present during the drill and Dr. Osnat Levtzion-Korach, Director of Hadassah-Mount Scopus, provided them with explanations at the various drill sites as to what was taking place.
"I was very impressed by the high level of professionalism and seriousness displayed by Hadassah's medical team, the Israel Defense Forces, and the Israeli government," Mrs. Natan stated. "As someone who has been in Israel during wartime many times, all I can do is pray that we never need to use these skills."
"The exercise was a huge success, thanks to the cooperation from all participants," related Dr. Levtzion-Korach." The flow of patients was excellent and the administration of treatment to more than 116 'injured' was done quickly and efficiently."
Television teams and reporters from all over the world covered the drill at Hadassah, including journalists from China, Taiwan, Japan, Australia, Spain, the United States, Germany, France, Russia, and two international Arab news channels.
AOA Chair Julian Rait, President of Hadassah Australia Foundation Ron Finkel, Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne, the Most Reverend Doctor Philip Freier Freier, Middle East Project Manager for AOA Alison Preston, CEO of AOA Bob Mitchell, Executive Director of Hadassah Australia Martin Splitter. Rozana Ghannam, a Palestinian girl who was treated at Hadassah in May 2012 when, at four years of age, she fell from a ninth floor balcony in her village near Ramallah
Hundreds of Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank will have access to improved health care at the Hadassah Medical Center thanks to a unique multi-faith partnership that was launched on May 24th at a media conference in Melbourne, Australia.
Entitled Project Rozana, this multi-faceted endeavor, endorsed by the health ministry of the Palestinian Authority, is being brought to fruition by the Hadassah Australia Foundation, Anglican Overseas Aid, and the Hadassah Medical Center. Its goal is three-fold:
The project is named after Rozana Ghannam, a Palestinian girl who was treated at Hadassah in May 2012 when, at four years of age, she fell from a ninth floor balcony in her village near Ramallah. Appreciative of her full recovery, Rozana's mother, Maysa, relates: "When we arrived at the checkpoint, I told the soldiers that Rozana must go to Hadassah Hospital. Everyone knows that while there is conflict between Israel and Palestine, none of that matters at Hadassah. I wanted the best for my daughter and what Hadassah achieved for her is a miracle, a miracle of life. If it hadn't been for them, I don't think she would have survived."
In the message she sent for presentation at the media conference, Maysa noted: "I promise you that Rosana will carry your humanitarian message of peace to all the world." She noted too: "The doctors at Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem are symbols of love, life, and humanity."
Ron Finkel, President of Hadassah Australia, explains that this unique partnership will "deal with the immediate health needs of Palestinian children while training Palestinian health workers who will return to Gaza and the West Bank to build the capacity of their own health systems for the future."
The Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne, Most Reverend Doctor Philip Freier, President of Anglican Overseas Aid, notes that the Anglican Church has a long history of supporting health care throughout the world as a demonstration of practical love to whoever is in need, including Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. In fact, "between 1948 and 1964," he reports, "Hadassah Hospital operated out of the old Anglican Hospice buildings in Jerusalem."
How Project Rozana Began
In 2011, Hadassah Australia, with funding from a generous Melbourne donor, sponsored a three-month training program for eight Palestinian psychologists at Hadassah Hospital.
Out of that initiative a two-year certification program for Palestinian psychologists was developed. While Hadassah Australia donors wanted to fund the project, Hadassah Australia was not able to provide a favorable vehicle through which people could donate and receive a tax deduction. Mr. Finkel decided to approach some of the major organizations involved in Overseas aid in the Middle East.
It was suggested to Mr. Finkel that he meet with Izzat Abdulhadir, the Representative of the Palestinian Authority in Australia. The two met in March 2012 and Mr. Abdulhadir expressed interest and requested a proposal. Things progressed and Mr. Abdulhadir identified an overseas aid agency that was receptive to collaborating with Hadassah Australia—Anglican Overseas Aid (the overseas aid arm of the Anglican Church in Australia) and confirmed that he had sent the proposal for the approval of the Palestinian Authority.
In late September 2012, with the full support of the Anglican Overseas Aid Board and President Dr. Freier, an agreement was signed by Hadassah Medical Center, Anglican Overseas Aid, and Hadassah Australia.
Project Rozana is believed to be the first initiative whereby Australians will be able to make fully tax deductible donations to an overseas aid program whose beneficiaries are Palestinian, the funds are deployed exclusively in Israel at an Israeli institution, and the fundraising is done jointly by an Anglican association and a national Jewish organization.
As Mr. Finkel expressed at the media conference: "Ours is an emerging relationship, but it is one that is clearly based on shared values and a keen desire to make a difference."
Mayor Christian Estrosi of Nice, France stopped at Hadassah Hospital-Ein Kerem during his seventh visit to Israel earlier this week and met with Acting Director General Dr. Yuval Weiss, who emphasized the importance of Hadassah's collaboration with Nice.
Dr. Weiss expressed his appreciation to the Mayor for his ongoing support in maintaining the relationship with Hadassah and highlighted Hadassah's work with debilitating neurological disorders, hematology, and cancer--topics of special interest to the mayor—as well as Hadassah's ongoing collaboration with the Palestinians.
Mayor Estrosi and his delegation started their tour at the new Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower, completed in October of 2012, and continued to the Shapell Atrium, Holocaust Memorial, and the newly dedicated Healing and Environmental Garden.
Dr. Weiss later led the group to the Trauma Unit, where the delegation discussed a plan to create a collaborative trauma program between Nice, Boston, and Hadassah Hospital.
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The oral insulin pill (ORMD-0801), based on over 30 years of research by Hadassah Medical Center scientists, and developed by the Israeli company, Oramed Pharmaceuticals Inc., has been cleared by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Phase 2 clinical trials in the US.
The orally ingestible capsule is indicated for those with early stage type two diabetes, when it can slow the rate of disease progression by providing additional insulin to the body and allowing the pancreas a respite. The pill delivery system has the advantage of mimicking insulin's natural location and gradients in the body by first passing through the liver before entering the bloodstream. "We are very pleased to have the FDA clearance to proceed," stated Nadav Kidron, Chief Executive Officer of Oramed. "The upcoming trial is a major milestone for Oramed and we look forward to continuing to progress ORMD-0801's clinical development in the US."Read more about the insulin pill from Hadassah International>>
Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar, National Insurance Director Professor Shlomo Mor-Yosef, patients, department heads and donors joined the family of the late Moises Saba Masri, to dedicate Hadassah Medical Organization's newest synagogue. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent warm greetings to the family and participants.
The round synagogue was named for Moises Saba Masri, a Mexican engineer businessman and philanthropist, who died in a helicopter crash in 2010. It stands at the entrance to the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower at the Ein Kerem Campus and features a picture window looking out on the Judaean hills.
The dedication took place during the minhah (afternoon) prayer service so that patients, family and staff on campus could take part.
Rabbi Amar affixed the mezuzah and conveyed the blessings of Israel's religious establishment on the synagogue. "Moises Saba Masri was a righteous man who was always ready to help and who carried through our missions in Mexico, whether in helping to free agunot or in solving other problems within the Jewish community," said Rabbi Amar.
Prime Minister Netanyahu praised the long history of Zionist dedication by Saba Masri and his family.
National Insurance Director Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, former Director General of Hadassah Medical Organization, said that while building the Tower those involved in the construction always knew that the synagogue was an important sanctuary where troubles beyond human capacity to heal could be directed to God.
Representing the family, Saba Masri's nephew, Sal Smeke said, "Giving is the easy part. We should be honoring you at the hospital for the hard work that you do. We want the synagogue to be used daily, and not only for special occasions. We expect to receive requests for new prayer books and additional prayer shawls. My uncle, Moises Saba Masri loved Israel and he loved the Torah. I sought a Biblical quotation that would mention both 'Moses' and 'hospital' but of course, the Torah preceded hospitals. I did find the Biblical Moses's heartfelt prayer for when his sister Miriam was sick and the camp of Israel halted: 'Eil na rafa na la'—Please, God, please heal her. I add my prayers that the prayers of all of those that rise from this synagogue should be answered."
The Moises Saba Masri synagogue is open to the public for daily prayer services.
While in the United States for training in evaluating children who have been physically or sexually abused, Hadassah Medical Center Senior Gynecologist/Obstetrician and Sexual Abuse Specialist Dr. Mushira Aboodia gave a presentation at Hadassah's New York headquarters about the work of the Hadassah Medical Center's Bat Ami Center for Victims of Sexual Abuse.
Dr. Aboodia, who received all her medical education and clinical training at the Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Medicine and Hadassah Medical Center, came to the United States for specialized training at the Child Abuse Research Education and Service (CARES) Institute of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. During her two-week training, she learned not only how to assess the extent of abuse a child suffered, but also how to document the child's injuries and write reports for the courts.
"The primary goal of the treatment at the Bat Ami Center," she explains, "is to return control to the victim." The person who has been assaulted decides whether to be examined by a gynecologist, to allow the collection of forensic evidence, or to press charges. Before the Center was established in 2009, victims had to go to the general emergency room, where they were often forced to wait much too long; now they are immediately seen by specialists of the Bat Ami team. Clinical studies have shown that the victim's recovery is highly influenced by how soon after the assault she is seen by those who can help her. At the Center, as a precaution, the victim is offered the "morning after" pill, antibiotics to fight sexually transmitted diseases, and medication to ward off HIV/AIDS.
For more information about the Bat Ami Center, see the October 2011 issue of Hadassah Magazine.
Dr. Itai Berger
Representing Israel at the 2013 International TedMed Conference, which showcases innovations in medical and biotechnology, Dr. Itai Berger, Director of the Hadassah Medical Center's Neuro-Cognitive Center, presented Hadassah's model for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
This is the first year that Israel has sent a delegation to the TedMed conference. More than 2,000 organizations and individuals applied to participate in this year's conference and only 20 delegates were chosen. Dr. Berger participated in what is known as "The Great Challenge Day" of the Conference, which features discussion groups devoted to particular specialties. Dr. Berger's group was entitled "Faster Adoption of Best Practices." He reports that his presentation was well received.
"Memory and Preservation" is the focus of this year's Women's Health Day sponsored by the Hadassah Medical Center's Patricia and Russell Fleischman Center for Women's Health at the Israel Museum. The Health Day features lectures, workshops, and activities, with specialists in the field, both from Hadassah and various medical organizations. Among the sub-topics are: "Memory Problems Among Seniors: Diagnosis and Treatment"; "Hormones and the Brain/Hormones and Memory"; and "Eating Healthy for a Healthy Memory: Nutrition and Memory Preservation."
The program also contains physical activity workshops—for example, exercises to strengthen one's feet and improve posture; movements specifically for those suffering with osteoporosis; pelvic floor strengthening; dance; and a workshop showcasing physical activity as a way to improve memory.
Participants will be treated to a tour of the Israel Museum's Herod Exhibit, along with a lecture by its curator and also have the opportunity to be guided through other museum exhibits as well.
Adiel, who lost his hearing when he contracted meningitis at the age of six months, can speak, enjoy music, and develop language skills, similar to his peers, thanks to successful cochlear implant surgery at the Hadassah Medical Center.
A small, complex electronic device, a cochlear implant has an external portion that picks up and analyzes sound and an internal portion which is surgically placed under the skin behind the ear to send impulses through electrodes to the auditory nerve and then to the brain. "It is the only manmade device that is connected to the central nervous system, and its impact has been enormous," relates Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist Prof. Josef Elidan, former head of the Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, where the cochlear implant team "resides."
Adiel's mother, Bracha Moyal, wrote to Hadassah to express her appreciation. In her letter, she explained:
"We were devastated and felt helpless. Just at that point, God sent his angels. We were referred to the cochlear implant team at Hadassah Hospital-Ein Kerem. We were treated with empathy, care, and professionalism. We felt that we had a shoulder to cry on and assistance to move on. They strengthened us so that we would not fall into despair.
"Dr. Michal Kaufman and the audiology staff answered our questions and were available for us any hour of the day. When I think back to that difficult time, I smile. What should have been a severely traumatic event was transformed into an experience that was challenging, yet bearable.
"Today, our Adiel is almost two years old. He understands very much and speaks in two-word sentences. He loves music and will sing along with his favorite songs. He is a happy child and we are happy also knowing that he will be able to develop speech and language similar to his peers.
"Words aren't enough to thank the team at Hadassah for all they have done. We hope that they will continue their blessed work for many years to come."
More than 550 people have benefited from Hadassah's expertise in cochlear implantation--babies who were born deaf; children like Adiel, who lost their hearing due to illness; and adults whose hearing deteriorated as they grew older. Hadassah's first cochlear implant patient was an adult who had lost his hearing," reports Prof. Elidan, who performed the operation. "I had just come back from the United States where I had been trained in the procedure," he recalls. "In an operation that took several hours, I implanted a device that had one channel and one electrode. Today, it takes considerably less time and the implant has 24 electrodes."
The surgery, however, is only one part of the process. Following surgery, patients require rehabilitation because "without rehabilitation, the implant is less effective," explains Miriam Adler, Coordinator of Hadassah's Cochlear Implant Program. "We hear with our ears and our brains," says Haya Levi, Chair of the Department's Speech and Learning Center, "but the brain is the star of the show." A month after the internal segment is implanted, the external part is connected. Then, the Center's staff begins to train the individual to speak or to retrieve speech.
"The implant provides sound--a great deal of sound," Ms. Levi says. "People who experience progressive hearing loss remember how speech sounds. Our job is to teach them how to distinguish among the sounds and how to filter them, how to identify words and, sometimes, how to speak on the phone. It takes about six months for people to begin feeling comfortable with the equipment."
Children who are born deaf, on the other hand, have no auditory memory. After receiving the implants, they have to be taught how to speak as well as how to hear. There is no age barrier to implants, Prof. Elidan reports, although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not allow the procedure for children under the age of one. "One of my patients," he says, "was 85. Even when there are technical problems like damage to the nerve fibers and very little residual hearing, we have special techniques that can overcome the problems."
Summing up the impact of cochlear implants, Ms. Adler comments, "This technology completely revolutionizes peoples' lives."
Researchers at the Hadassah University Medical Center witnessed the ability of the heart to heal itself, in the course of conducting a study on sheep where they implanted a stent into the left atrial appendage and found tissue growing inside the stent. "The tissue had a structural resemblance to tissue that was known to grow inside the atrial appendage," reports Prof. Ronen Beeri, Director of Hadassah's Cardiovascular Research Center and one of the study's investigators.
The researchers conducted a follow-up experiment on the hearts of adult mice. They found that what they were looking at were stem cells in the left atrial appendage which could stimulate the heart to repair itself. The researchers' findings are also of note because they shed light on the function of the mysterious left atrial appendage.
The Palestinian Authority's Minister of Health, Dr. Hani Abdeen, visited patients at Hadassah Hospital on May 5th and emphasized the importance of cooperation with Hadassah in healing, teaching, and research.
Dr. Abdeen, accompanied by other senior officials from the Palestinian Authority, met with Hadassah Acting Director General and Director of Hadassah-Ein Kerem Dr. Yuval Weiss in the Pediatric Hemato-Oncology Department, where 30 percent of the patients are Palestinian. Dr. Weiss conveyed to him that "Hadassah considers cooperation with our Palestinian neighbors a top priority." Dr. Weiss further explained: "Medicine is a bridge to peace. There are no borders when it comes to treating patients."
During his visit, Dr. Abdeen met some of the Palestinian physicians who were training at Hadassah. Dr. Weiss brought out that at any given moment, there are about 60 Palestinian doctors doing their residency at Hadassah. Emphasizing that it is important to develop specialties that are lacking in the Palestinian Authority--particularly anesthesiology, interventional radiology, cardiac care, and pediatrics--Dr. Abdeen noted, "I'm a Jerusalemite myself, so I know about Hadassah and its international positions."
Entering Hadassah Hospital through the atrium of the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower, Dr. Abdeen was welcomed by Hadassah's Marketing Director Amitai Rotem and Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America's Israel Director of Public Relations Barbara Sofer, who explained that the new inpatient facility was a gift of the women and men of Hadassah and Hadassah International. "I wish we had you," Dr. Abdeen replied.
"I understand that I am the first Palestinian Minister of Health to visit our patients in an Israeli hospital," Dr. Abdeen said. "It's a great pleasure to do so. This is an official visit. I want to hear their feedback--their moans, groans, and gripes, as well as their praise for the good treatment they are getting. We're here to find ways to further collaborate."
Dr. Abdeen thanked the Hadassah staff for the opportunity to visit and commended the hospital for its treatments and capabilities.Read more in the Times of Israel>>
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For his support during United States President Barack Obama's recent visit to Israel, Prof. Avi Rivkind, Director of the Hadassah Medical Center's Trauma Unit, received a certificate of appreciation from the White House.
The certificate reads: "The members of the White House Medical Unit wish to express our sincere appreciation and commend you for OUTSTANDING support during the recent visit of President Barack Obama to Israel. Your professionalism reflects great credit upon yourself, and is in keeping with the highest traditions of medical care. Thank you for a job well done."
Prof. Rivkind was also instrumental in teaching physicians from Boston (MA) about Hadassah's methodology for handling mass casualty events. Rivkind, who has treated countless terror victims in Israel, helped to devise a training system for emergency triage which underscores the fact that some of the severest blast trauma injuries are hard to detect, but can prove fatal if not dealt with immediately.
Read more about Avi Rivkind's help in Boston, on theworld.com>>
Prof. David Branski, Hadassah Medical Center Pediatrician and former head of the Pediatrics Division, is this year's recipient of the European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition's "Distinguished Service Award," presented at the association's annual meeting.
Prof. Branski was recognized for his lifetime accomplishments in the field of pediatric gastroenterology, "particularly for the great contribution given to the development of the specialty in Israel."
Prof. Meir (Iri) Liebergall, head of Orthopedic Surgery at Hadassah, was the guest speaker at a workshop hosted by the Italian Society of Muscles, Ligaments, and Tendons. He presented Hadassah's unique experience in employing stem cells to regenerate ligament and tendon tissue.
As Efrat Dotan, a 29-year-old young woman with Down syndrome, opened the proceedings, the 2013 World Down Syndrome Day conference was launched this month at the Hadassah Medical Center, with over 400 people in attendance.
Typically, this conference is held on March 21st, in recognition of "Trisomy 21," the other name for Down syndrome, indicating that those with the syndrome have three, rather than the usual pair, of #21 chromosomes. This year, however, the conference was delayed in Israel because of the Passover holiday and the visit to Jerusalem of United States President Barack Obama. The concept for an annual conference about Down syndrome was initiated in 2006 by Balbir Singh of the Singapore Down Syndrome Association and Joav Merrick of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in Israel.
Today, the conference in Israel is hosted with the broad collaboration of Hadassah's National Center for Down Syndrome under the direction of Center Director Dr. Ariel Tenenbaum, along with the NICHD, the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Municipality of Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Down Syndrome Association (Yated), Keren Shalem, and the SHALVA Center in Jerusalem.
Hadassah's National Center for Down Syndrome on Mount Scopus was established nine years ago as a multidisciplinary "one-stop shop" for individuals with Down syndrome of all ages. Since its inception, over 800 families have come to the Center for help, both Israelis and patients from abroad. In Israel, Dr. Tenebaum reports, there are about 7,000 individuals with Down syndrome and each year about 150 new babies are born with the condition.
This year's Conference sessions featured medical advances and new technology in Down syndrome treatment. Dr. Tenenbaum presented new research from Israel and abroad, highlighting a Hadassah study which revealed that individuals with Down syndrome are hospitalized more often and for longer periods of time than those in the general population. In addition, he noted that many more needed to be hooked up to oxygen and a great number needed intensive care. "They have to be watched carefully," he said. "And they all must get vaccinated against the flu."
Yidida Levin-Stranberg from Ariel University and Rina Cohen from the Ministry of Education explained how iPad technology has opened a whole new world for children and youth with special needs, enabling them to communicate and socialize more effectively. Inclusion of those with special needs was the focus of another session, where Danny Katz, Division for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services, reported on the joint project of the Ministry, AKIM, and the Israel Defense Forces aimed at integrated people with special needs into the army. Since the project began in 2008, 31 special needs soldiers have been enlisted, with much success. Participants also learned that, in the spirit of inclusion, Israel's basketball team, Hapoel Jerusalem, has adopted the children of SHALVA, Israel's association for physically and mentally challenged children, and is training them for matches.
Among the characteristics that are typical for those who have Down's syndrome-- besides mental retardation--are stunted growth, a flattened nose, a short neck, weak muscle tone, short extremities, small teeth, a large tongue, crossed eyes, and low-set, rounded ears. Other complications which often accompany Down's syndrome are respiratory infections (in children), apnea, low blood pressure, anemia, cataracts, obesity, hearing and vision problems, celiac disease, pancreatic disorders, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, epilepsy, and thyroid disease. Hadassah's comprehensive Down syndrome center simplifies the ordeal for those needing the services of multiple specialists.
With Prof. Chaim Lotan, head of Hadassah's Heart Institute and Outgoing President of the Israel Heart Society (IHS) as host along with IHS Secretary-General Dr. Amit Segev, over 1,000 cardiologists from around the world participated in the IHS's international conference in Jerusalem, celebrating its 60th anniversary and spotlighting Israel's major contributions to the treatment of cardiovascular disease.
Commemorating three of these cardiac contributions, Israel's Philatelic Service recently issued three new postage stamps. One features a percutaneous (inserted through the skin) artificial heart valve; another highlights stents (metal mesh cylinders that release medication and hold open damaged or collapsed coronary arteries); and a third contains an illustration of an implanted defibrillator that electrically regulates a heartbeat. The stamps were unveiled at the IHS conference by Philatelic Service Director Yaron Razon.
Among the leading foreign guests at the conference were American College of Cardiology President Prof. John Harold and European Society of Cardiology President Prof. Panos Vardas. In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Prof. Harold, a cardiologist at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center in California, related that he has trained many Israeli cardiologists and described the growth of cardiac services in Israel as "nothing short of extraordinary." He also commented: "Israeli cardiologists have great bench-to-bedside developments. Israel is one of the safest parts of the world to have a heart attack."
Prof. Lotan told the audience that the mortality rate from cardiovascular disease has dropped in recent decades by half, and that 90 percent of acute cardiovascular events are treated immediately with catheterization. In addition, he noted that in the last four years, about 1,500 artificial heart valves have been implanted via catheter to replace faulty ones in patients for whom open-heart surgery is counterindicated.Read more in The Jerusalem Post>>
The Hadassah Medical Center has opened a multidisciplinary facility to treat pediatric vascular defects—a first for Israel. Ten percent of infants are born with vascular defects in various areas of the body. Vascular defects can develop while the child is still in utero and resulting symptoms can appear either at birth or later on during a child's adolescent years.
For most of these children, the defect will disappear within seven years; however, some may be left with scarring or aesthetic damage. Although only one percent of children born with vascular deformities need treatment to correct the defects in main arteries and airways, in many cases, the condition is not diagnosed correctly, which can prove life-threatening.
Until now, infants and children were sent abroad for corrective surgery. With the opening of the new center at Hadassah, these children can receive the same quality of treatment in Israel, as specialists from plastic surgery, dermatology, laryngology, diagnostic radiology, angiography, and invasive radiology combine their talents to build a comprehensive treatment plan.
"Today, we have access to minimally invasive measures for effective treatment," relates Dr. Adam Farkas of Hadassah's Vascular and Interventional Radiology Unit. "Early detection is the key, because it allows children to grow and develop well, both physically and socially, and to avoid unnecessary pain and suffering."
One method of treatment closes off the problematic blood vessels via insertion of a catheter through the groin. The area is cauterized until the vein or artery has shrunk to the point of blocking blood flow to the area, thus eventually causing it to disappear. The other treatment method is sclerotherapy, which also shrinks the problematic blood vessel, but with an injection of a special solution.
Dr. Farkas, age 32, who was born and raised in New York, recently immigrated to Israel with his wife and four children. He has a special interest in venous diseases and vascular malformations, for which he underwent specialized training at Boston (MA) Children's Hospital, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School. He has since brought to Hadassah some of the cutting-edge therapies he learned at Harvard.
With the goal of offering more efficient service to patients and attracting new patients, the Hadassah Medical Center has introduced a new smartphone application.
Developed jointly by Hadassah’s Information Systems Division and Ideomobile, an Israeli company that specializes in mobile channel solutions, the application is available for downloading and can also be accessed at the admission desks of Hadassah Hospital’s two campuses. Through this application, individuals can register to give birth at Hadassah, schedule an appointment, and receive reminders of upcoming appointments, lab results, and directions to the hospital.
“This application is a huge step in the field of mobile administration and medicine,” relates Efrat Simon of Hadassah’s Division of Information Systems. She adds: “Hadassah developed this application with the intention of improving the efficiency and quality of patient care. We continue to develop additional features, such as a Hadassah phonebook and an English version."
A multidisciplinary team of researchers at the Hadassah Medical Center have discovered the reason behind recurrent life-threatening infections in infants that has led to bone marrow failure. Through six months of intensive research, Dr. Polina Stepensky, a pediatric hemato-oncology and bone marrow transplant specialist; Prof. Orly Elpeleg, head of the Department of Genetics and Metabolic Diseases; and Prof. Dror Mevorach, head of Internal Medicine B and Director of the Rheumatology Research Center, identified a gene mutation in the Vps45 gene which causes accelerated cell death in select white blood cells and bone marrow.
Additionally, they noted that the intracellular transport system in the blood cells was collapsing due to the absence of intracellular storage vesicles. The authors of the study note that "this is the first report of a Vps45-related disease in humans," which manifests itself with abnormally low levels of the white blood cells produced in the bone marrow, platelet abnormality, disorder of the bone marrow, and progressive bone marrow failure. They also bring out that "elucidation of the underlying mechanism is important because it extends our understanding of the more common adult forms of these disorders."
The researchers analyzed data from five Palestinian children who suffered from recurrent, serious infections, followed by bone marrow failure. Although they came from two unrelated families, the children were products of consanguineous marriages (sharing a common ancestry). The two older siblings, who also came to Hadassah for treatment, died prior to the study. Two of the surviving children have, however, recovered from this debilitating condition thanks to successful bone marrow transplants performed at Hadassah.
The research findings were published in the April 18, 2013 on-line edition of the prestigious medical journal, Blood , and have drawn world-wide attention.
Read about it in The Jerusalem Post>>
Estelle Rubinstein, the new director of the Department of Social Work, who will replace Rita Avramov, right.
Estelle Rubinstein, Deputy Director of the Hadassah Medical Center’s Department of Social Work, has been named Director, succeeding Rita Avramov, who is retiring after a 42-year career at Hadassah---12 of them as head of the Department.
During the past decade, as Deputy Director, Ms. Rubinstein supervised social workers in Hadassah’s medical and surgical departments and the departments of hemato-oncology and pediatrics. Simultaneously, Ms. Rubinstein worked in Hadassah’s AIDS Center, where she trained and supervised social workers and conducted seminars for professionals on HIV/AIDS. She has also been serving as a member of the team that treats children with HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia and at Hadassah.
Additionally, for the past ten years, Ms. Rubinstein was a team leader for social workers dealing with mass casualty events and emergency room patients as well as coordinator of long-term care for the hospitalized injured.
Mrs. Rubinstein is frequently called upon to share her insights and clinical experiences at professional conferences in Israel and abroad. A native of South Africa, Ms. Rubinstein holds both a bachelor of arts degree and a master’s degree from the Hebrew University’s Baerwald School of Social Work.
The Hadassah Medical Center's close relationship with Israel's military includes a special program for soldiers entitled Yakar, the Hebrew word for "cherished." Through Yakar, Hadassah provides sophisticated medical diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up services for soldiers, working in conjunction with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Sometimes, it is ill soldiers who are referred to Hadassah directly from their Army base; other times, it is soldiers that have been injured during war or military operations who are rushed by ambulance or helicopter to Hadassah.
Representatives from the IDF are on hand in the Yakar facility, often in official uniform, to assist in identifying soldier patients or to help with contacting relatives as needed. All administrative and liaison issues are dealt with in the Yakar unit.
Together, Hadassah and Yakar ensure that all military personnel who turn to the Medical Center for care receive immediate and comprehensive attention.
Dr. Tomer Tzur, Hadassah Medical Center Plastic Surgeon, specializing in reconstructive surgery as well as running the world's largest skin bank at Hadassah-Ein Kerem, is also a member of the Israel Defense Force's elite commando unit. A surgeon at Hadassah for the last 13 years, Dr. Tzur may spend his 12-hour work day improving the appearance of a burn victim, repairing the functioning of a trauma victim's limb or reconstructing a woman's breast following a mastectomy. Or he may be on the battlefield in his role as a commando. Dr. Tzur served as a commando before becoming a physician; after he completed medical school, he became a commando physician. At age 43, he still takes on combat duty, spending two months every year with the military.
A former champion 400-meter runner while a youngster growing up in Haifa, Dr. Tzur was also a professional dancer with Israel's Batsheva Dance Company. Having a father born in Italy and a mother born in Romania, Dr. Tzur speaks both of their native languages, as well as Hebrew, Arabic, English, French, and German. Dr. Tzur is also a mentor to colleagues from other countries, like South Africa, advising them on how to replicate Hadassah's protocol for storing skin.
As all the medical and nursing professionals at Hadassah, Dr. Tzur treats Arabs and Jews, Israelis and Palestinians. "I've taken part in military action and then treated the terrorists we captured," he says. "That's part of my life." He adds: "I believe that most of the people in this region would like to have peace. But, because they don't live in fully democratic countries, they can't express these priorities."
Looking toward the future, Dr. Tzur notes: As we reach our 65th birthday as a nation, I hope we will be able to address the economic gaps and social issues in our society and not have to focus so much energy on defense."
The Hadassah Medical Center is one of the prestigious participants in a global consortium sponsored by the Cure Alzheimer's Fund (CAF), aimed at employing stem cells to eventually uncover the cure for Alzheimer's disease. Prof. Tamir Ben-Hur, M.D., Ph.D, head of Hadassah's Department of Neurology, is spearheading the research at Hadassah, which has received an initial grant of $100,000 from Cure for this purpose.
Prof. Ben-Hur explains that neural stem cells are able to renew themselves and generate various types of brain cells. While such cells form the brain during embryonic development, it has become clear that the adult brain, like many other tissues, also contains resident stem and precursor cells.
Brain regeneration, Prof. Ben-Hur relates, "can be achieved by only two possible approaches: either introducing such cells to the brain by transplantation (necessitating their growth and manipulation in the culture dish prior to transplantation) or by inducing the injured brain's own resident stem and precursor cells to exit their quiescent state and enter a regenerative mode. These two complementary approaches are under extensive research, in an effort to translate them into clinical reality."
During the last decade, Prof. Ben- Hur and several other research groups have shown that neural stem and precursor cells have additional therapeutic properties that may prove applicable clinically. In particular, they have shown that these cells possess unique immunologic properties by which they suppress inflammatory processes in the brain. They also possess trophic properties by which they can protect brain cells from injury, and even facilitate regenerative processes by neighboring cells.
Prof. Ben-Hur explains the impetus for his current research: "Having shown such therapeutic effects by transplantation of neural stem cells into the brain of animals with various disease models and since inflammatory and degenerative processes have critical roles in the development of Alzheimer's disease, I hypothesized that the endogenous population of stem and precursor cells that reside in the brain may have a physiological role in protecting it from development of Alzheimer's disease. The idea is that the resident stem cells in the brain do not just sit there awaiting injury, but may also have an active continuous role in protecting the brain. In the brain of Alzheimer's disease, the physiological function of resident stem cells might be compromised, enabling the neurodegenerative process to develop."
Therefore, in this project supported by Cure, Prof. Ben-Hur explains, he and his team "will investigate whether mouse and human neural stem cells that carry mutations which lead to the early development of Alzheimer's disease are defective in their functional properties of ameliorating inflammation and protecting their environment. To that end, we will perform in-vitro and in vivo experiments using co-culture systems as well as transplantation into animal models of disease. We will compare the ability of normal neural stem cells to that of Alzheimer's neural stem cells in their ability to: (1) inhibit inflammatory processes; (2) promote neurogenesis and gliogenesis (generation of neurons and glial cells of the brain); and (3) protect the brain from neurodegeneration."
Putting this research into perspective, Prof. Ben-Hur notes that the goal is not to examine whether transplantation of stem cells will help patients with Alzheimer's disease. Rather, its purpose is to "examine whether the brain has a potential to protect itself from developing the disease by proper function of its resident stem cells." This knowledge, he says, could lead to defining new ways for battling Alzheimer's disease.
The Consortium Team
Along with Prof. Ben-Hur on the consortium team are distinguished researchers from domestic and international institutes, including: Doo Yeon Kim, Ph.D, Harvard University Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital (MA); Kevin Eggan, Ph.D., Harvard University Stem Cell Institute; Sam Gandy, M.D., Ph.D., Mount Sinai (NY) School of Medicine; and Scott Noggle, Ph.D, New York Stem Cell Foundation. Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Ph.D., President of The Rockefeller University (NY) is pursuing related research separately funded by CAF. The “Stem Cell Bank” created during this research will be available to researchers around the world, enhancing the ability of global scientific discovery to proceed at a more rapid pace.Read the Cure Alzheimer's Fund Feature on Tamir Ben-Hur>>
Sunday evening, the sound of the siren will hit home again, to mark the beginning of Yom Hazikaron, Memorial Day for Israeli fallen soldiers and victims of terror. As I anticipate this day, I think of my brother, Amir z"l, more than usual. I was 17 and he was just 20 when he was killed by terrorists on the Lebanese border during his army service.
These two days remind us – individually and collectively – of those we have lost and the price we have paid. Yom Ha'atzmaut, Independence Day, which follows on the heels of Memorial Day celebrates all we have gained.
In this small country of ours, the past and the present come together often and here at Hadassah especially so. My brother, Amir, went to the same high school class with Prof. Iri Liebergall, Head of Orthopedic Surgery, and Dr. Ido Yatziv, who established and headed our Pediatric Intensive Care Unit until he passed away suddenly last year. Whenever I walk through Hadassah-Mt. Scopus or Hadassah-Ein Kerem and see the amazing variety of people who have come to us for care, I can't help but think of all the Holocaust survivors, all the soldiers – and even a number of terrorists – Hadassah has treated over the years. When I look at the faces of our patients, I find it more than symbolic that here our aim is to treat all who come to our gates, all who need to combat disease, all who need Hadassah's healing touch – Jews, Moslems, Christians, Israelis and Palestinians, secular and religious.
In many ways, my story and my family's is similar to that of many other Israelis and that of many others in Hadassah; by the same token, everyone's story is their own, each and every one unique.
I think if I had to characterize the men in my family, I would point out our intense dedication to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) – to assuming responsibility as officers and to serving with distinction. My father joined the Haganah when he arrived in Palestine in 1947. When the State was declared he continued to serve as long as he could. My oldest brother, a pilot, was shot down in the Yom Kippur War and spent eight months in a Syrian prison. He retired many years later as a Lieutenant Colonel. Amir, z"l, was the next to go to the army, and I followed, spending 28 years in the Medical Corps, first as a medic and later as Deputy Surgeon General of the IDF.
When I look at the aging population that we at Hadassah aim to treat with dignity and respect, I can't help but wonder where they came from and if their childhood was as horrific as my parents was. When I look at the children we are helping in our many Pediatric Departments, I remember learning about my father's escape from the Hungarian work camp where he was imprisoned, and how he and his Hashomer Hatzair comrades went about their mission to save children from the Nazis – particularly Jewish children. They were quite successful, so much so that 10 years ago the Hungarian government awarded my father a Medal of Honor for his activities as a partisan fighter.
A few years ago, I visited Auschwitz and Birkenau with a delegation from Israel's Ministry of Defense. For me, that place, that time and that picture are even more meaningful today than they were then – for today, the son of the people the Nazis tried to destroy is the Acting Director General of the Jewish, Zionist Hadassah Medical Organization that treats more than a million people a year and has more than 6,000 staff members – in Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel.
These are emotional days for all Israelis and for Jews around the world. They are emotional days for my family and me. As the memorial observances become the celebration of our 65th Yom Ha'atzmaut, I look forward to celebrating and rejoicing with you as to all we have together achieved and accomplished.
Yom Ha'atzmaut Sameach,
Meet a three-generation Hadassah family, choosing to serve the health care needs of Israel: Hannah Gofrit, Holocaust survivor and Public Health Nurse for Hadassah's Tipat Chalav (Well-Baby Clinics); her son, Prof. Ofer Gofrit, Senior Urologist at the Hadassah Medical Center; and Hannah's granddaughter, Shany Gofrit, a fourth year student at Hadassah's School of Military Medicine.
A three-generation Hadassah family.
"My mother was a skilled dressmaker with a boutique salon and my father, a leather merchant," recalls Mrs. Gofrit, who was born in Biala Ravksa, Poland, a town where 4,000 Jews lived among Christian neighbors. "As a toddler," she says, "I had dresses and shoes galore." When Germany conquered Poland in September 1939, the Jews were soon secluded in a Ghetto, but the local women protested that their haute couture seamstress would not be accessible and so Hannah's family remained in their home!
When Prof. Gofrit was asked if he, as a surgeon, inherited his grandmother's sewing ability, he responded: "For sure. My grandmother's ability to sew saved her life. I do think of her sometimes when I'm sewing, trying to save other lives."
Mrs. Gofrit was four years old when the Germans came into Poland. She and her mother went into hiding in Warsaw. A Polish family gave them shelter in their apartment on the condition that if the Gestapo searched for them, they would jump from the roof to their deaths. When the Gestapo did come, however, the 12-year old Polish daughter warned them and insisted that instead of jumping they go back into their hiding place in a dark closet. It was there that nature-loving Hannah imagined herself as a butterfly, free to fly away. I Wanted to Fly Like a Butterfly, the internationally heralded children's book, is based on her experience.
Mrs. Gofrit, now 75, was one of two out of 1,000 children from her town to survive the Holocaust. She made Aliyah with her mother in 1949. "After the Holocaust, I wanted to leave a message to future generations that you shouldn't hurt others," she relates. She took a job as a public health nurse in the mixed Jewish-Arab neighborhood of Ajami in Jaffa, before going to work at Hadassah's well-baby clinics. Mrs. Gofrit spoke at this year's Holocaust Memorial Ceremony at Hadassah Hospital-Ein Kerem. "My mother didn't talk much about the Shoah when I was growing up," Prof. Gofrit said. "But there was a strong message in the home on the importance of life."
Ben Zion Binder Ben Zion Binder Ben Zion Binder
Artist as well as Life Member Sharon Binder, who made aliyah in 1983, has designed an original parochet (ark curtain) and shulchan (table) cover for the torahs at the Moshe Saba Masri Synagogue in the Hadassah Medical Center's Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower.
"We know that there are times when it takes more than medicine to heal," says Binder. She adds: "Hadassah and everything it stands for have always been close to my heart. My mother was a life member in New York and in Florida and I have long been a life member and am active in Hadassah in Jerusalem."
The parochet's design expresses the notion of reaching heavenward in supplication and seeking guidance. Binder explains that she began by integrating three concepts: the Jewish tradition of healing, the symbolism and physical meaning of a heart, and the array of a human being's emotions, illustrated through a full range of colors.
Binder, who majored in art and Jewish studies at Queens College (NY) and studied calligraphy in Canada, chose to use a quotation from the prophet, Jeremiah, from whom Hadassah also takes its motto, "The healing of the daughter of my people." The quote reads: "Behold, I will bring her relief and healing. I will heal them and reveal unto them an abundance of peace and truth" (Jeremiah 33:6). When the ark is closed, the Hebrew words for peace and truth line up side by side.
The shulchan cover, also resplendent in color, displays a saying from Tehillim (Book of Psalms), which conveys the message, "Those who love your Torah enjoy abundant peace, and there is no stumbling for them" (Tehillim 119:165).
Mrs. Binder's youngest son, Ben Zion, who photographed the designs, is a graduate of Hadassah Academic College Jerusalem.
Prof. Aviram Nissan has been named head of the Department of Surgery at the Hadassah Medical Center, succeeding Prof. Avi Rivkind, who has completed his tenure of 10 years in that position. Prof. Rivkind continues as Director of Hadassah's Trauma Unit and Senior Physician in the Department of General Surgery.
A graduate of the Hebrew University and the Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Medicine, where he now serves as Associate Professor of Surgery, Prof. Nissan completed his internship and a residency in the Department of Surgery at Hadassah-Mt. Scopus, as well as a residency in the Department of Surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. Born in the United States, he also served as Research Fellow in the Colorectal Service of the Department of Surgery at New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in NY. Prof. Nissan also completed a fellowship in Surgical Oncology in Memorial Sloan-Kettering's Department of Surgery.
Until 2011, Prof. Nissan served as Attending Surgeon in the Department of Surgery at Hadassah-Mt. Scopus. He returns to Hadassah to assume his new position after two years as Chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology at the Rabin Medical Center's Beilinson Hospital.
Prof. Nissan is the recipient of many research awards and honors, as well as research grants from institutions in Israel and abroad. His dedication to research has resulted in the publication of over 100 articles, case reports, and editorials in prestigious medical journals, as well as invitations to present his research findings at national and international medical conferences. His main research areas are Peritoneal Surface Malignancies and Colorectal Cancer.
Married and the father of two children, Prof. Nissan completed his military service as a Major in the Paratrooper regiment of the Israel Defense Forces.
Researchers at the Hadassah University Medical Center have discovered the gene that causes primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD), a rare condition that compromises the functioning of the cilia, the minute protective hairs in the respiratory system, thereby resulting in repeated lung infections, sinusitis, frequent ear infections, and fertility problems. In about half of the cases, the mutation also causes organs to develop in "mirror image" of one another, so that, for example, the heart develops on the right side of the chest instead of on the left, while the liver grows on the left and the stomach and spleen on the right.
Prof. Eitan Kerem, head of Pediatrics at Hadassah, and Prof. Orly Elpeleg, head of the Department of Genetic and Metabolic Diseases, along with Dr. David Shoseyov and Dr. Malena Cohen discovered the gene by studying five children from two different families who suffer from PCD. Three of the children affected suffer from the transposition of organs. According to medical estimates, the condition occurs in one out of 15,000 births, but the Hadassah researchers believe that PCD is actually more prevalent, though not always diagnosed.
During her tour of the Department of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at Hadassah Medical Center-Ein Kerem, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) donned protective covering to visit one-year-old Alma Jaradat from Jenin, who was hospitalized in an isolation unit before undergoing bone marrow transplantation.
During her tour of the Department of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at the Hadassah Medical Center-Ein Kerem, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) was introduced to Alud Katush, a Head Nurse from a Palestinian hospital in Beit Jalla, who is receiving advanced training in pediatric hemato-oncology at Hadassah.
While in Israel accompanying President Obama, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) paid an early morning visit to the Hadassah Medical Center-Ein Kerem, where she visited with sick patients and met with members of the staff. Accompanied by Dr. Mickey Weintraub, Head of the Department of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, and Barbara Goldstein, Deputy Director of Hadassah Offices in Israel, the Florida congresswoman visited one-year-old Alma Jaradat from Jenin, who was hospitalized in an isolation unit before undergoing bone marrow transplantation.
In the nearby hall, she exchanged a few playful words with four-year-old Ahmad from Bethlehem, who is suffering from leukemia, while sharing more comforting remarks with his mother, Nurad. Further on, Rep. Wasserman Schultz was introduced to Alud Katush, a Head Nurse from a Palestinian hospital in Beit Jalla, who is receiving advanced training in pediatric hemato-oncology at Hadassah.
Rep. Wasserman Schultz then made time for a tour of the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower, the newest building on Hadassah's Ein Kerem campus. In the lobby adjacent to the David and Fela Shapell Family Gateway to Health, she paused before the memorial to the Shoah, a gift of Rochelle, Benjamin and Irwin Shapell that honors the memory of their grandparents who perished in the Holocaust. In the Department of Urology, Head Nurse Saad Gera pointed out the features that ensure the finest in patient care and comfort and introduced Dr. Anna Ilya, originally of Sweden, the first female urology resident in Israel.
Nearing the end of the whirlwind visit, the Florida congresswoman who also chairs the Democratic National Committee met with Dr. Yuval Weiss, Acting Director General of the Hadassah Medical Organization, and promised to return for another and longer visit.
A Hadassah life member, Rep. Wasserman Schultz is frequently asked to share her experiences throughout Florida and often much farther afield. In Washington, she proudly introduced a Congressional resolution in honor of Hadassah's 100th Anniversary and its century of accomplishments.
Researchers at the Hadassah University Medical Center have discovered that over expression of an immune system Natural Killer (NK) cell called Neuroligin 4 can trigger cirrhosis of the liver by preventing the body from combating scarring. The Hadassah study compared blood samples from dozens of patients with cirrhosis to those of a healthy control group. "In their healthy form, the Neuroligin cells kill the scar-tissue cells," reports Prof. Rifaat Safadi, head of Hadassah's Liver Unit and this study. In the over expression scenario, he explains, "a mechanism is put into operation that keeps the cells from doing their unscarring work."
Several years ago, the same research team found that intact NK cells are good for the liver and prevent cirrhosis. The finding was published in the February 2006 issue of The Journal of Hepatology and also reported by a group of researchers at the National Institutes of Health in the United States. Next, Hadassah's researchers plan to investigate whether mutations of Neuroligin 4 also increase the risk of cirrhosis.
Hadasit, Hadassah's Technology Transfer Company, has already patented Neuroligin 4 in hopes of using it to develop treatments to fend off liver disease.
Read the story in Haaretz here>>
Thanks to a catheterization method of valve replacement, a 15-year-old girl's life was preserved without the need for open-heart surgery.
The adolescent, who suffers from congestive heart failure, needed to have open-heart surgery every few years to replace a valve that was implanted in her body. When she came to Hadassah for her fourth open-heart surgery, Pediatric Cardiologist Dr. Gavri Sagui suggested that this time, she have a newly renovated valve inserted and sutured through an innovative catheterization procedure. The treatment proved successful and now the young girl will not have to undergo any additional open-heart surgeries. She will just need to have the valve replaced again in 10 years, using the same minimally invasive procedure.
"The physical and mental traumas following each surgery were very difficult," the girl's mother said. "This time there was no trauma at all, and she even wrote a book of optimistic poems about her experience."
Dr. Sagui explains that the new procedure enables the patient to go back home within a few days. "The only thing that is left," he says, "is a small incision in the foot."
From left to right: Rabbi Moshe Klein (second from left), Rabbi Shlomo Amar, Isaac Zaoui, and Rabbi Yonah Metzger
The Saba Synagogue
The last two letters were inscribed and then, with a festive procession, Hadassah celebrated the donation by Isaac Zaoui of two new Torah scrolls to the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower's Moshe Saba Masri Synagogue.
Participating in the celebration were the two Chief Rabbis of Israel--Rabbi Yonah Metzger and Rabbi Shlomo Amar; Dr. Yuval Weiss, Hadassah Medical Center Acting Director General; Rabbi Moshe Klein, Chief Rabbi of the Medical Center; Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro, head of Yeshivat Merkaz Harav; and Hadassah National President Marcie Natan, along with hundreds of patients, visitors, and hospital personnel. The procession paused by a sign recognizing Isaac Zaoui's donation of the scrolls in memory of his wife, Jacqueline. Mrs. Natan presented Mr. Zaoui with a certificate, honoring his contribution. Later in the ceremony, a congratulatory message from the Saba family in Mexico was read. The synagogue bears the name of Moshe Saba Masri, who was tragically killed in an accident.
The Saba Synagogue, designed by Spector-Amisar Architects of Jerusalem, is a six-meter high, two-story sanctuary with 101 seats. Infused with light and a sense of space, the synagogue houses windows that overlook the landscape of the Judean Hills, imparting an aura of serenity. The décor of the interior includes carpeted floors, natural wood, and Jerusalem stone.
The Wellington Unit of Hadassah-New Zealand raised funds for the Hadassah Medical Center's Medical Clown Program by hosting a raffle and stand at the local Jewish Community Center's Purim Gala. "It seemed a natural fit--to promote Hadassah's Clown Project on a day that celebrated Purim, when folk are encouraged to done fancy dress!" commented Hadassah Wellington Committee Member Sam Treister.
Various local vendors contributed to the box of Kosher prizes for the raffle winner, whose name was drawn by HE Shemi Tzur, Israel's Ambassador to New Zealand.
"I chose to support the Hadassah raffle," said Raffle Prize Winner Karen de Maat, "because I am an early childhood teacher and appreciate the fact that hospitals can be daunting for some children. I also like the idea of including laughter as a tool for therapy, because as the saying goes, 'Laughter is the best medicine.' "
Having been in and out of hospitals frequently, a cardiac patient wrote to thank the team at the Hadassah Medical Center for their "patience and so many smiles, not to mention professionalism and patient care."
Through the United States Agency for International Development's American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA) program, the Hadassah Medical Center—one of eight grantees in the Middle East--received over one million dollars in Fiscal Year 2012 to upgrade its surgical equipment.
ASHA's 2012 Annual Report notes: "ASHA has empowered Hadassah to incorporate the most effective advancements in surgery and technology to continue to be a model of American medical practices in the Middle East." This funding, it continues, "has provided an upgrade in surgical tools and medical equipment," including "surgical lamps, surgical tables, anesthesia systems and monitors, mobile x-ray systems, and laser surgery equipment."
In the over half century of its existence, the ASHA grant program has assisted 257 institutions in more than 75 countries. In FY 2012, ASHA awarded more than $20.5 million in grants and cooperative agreements, with about 38 percent—$7,900,000--going to the Middle East.
The eight Middle East ASHA grantees for Fiscal Year 2012 are:
With the deep conviction that research is the essence of medicine, the Hadassah Medical Center's physicians/researchers are committed to translating research insights into practical advances that not only prolong, but also enhance quality of life.
Each year, their findings and analyses appear in hundreds of articles within prestigious scientific journals.
Surgeons prepare for knee replacement.
Using Zimmer® iASSIST™--a unique personalized guidance system involving a gyroscope and WiFi technology--surgeons at the Hadassah Medical Center have performed four successful knee replacements.
Prof. Iri Liebergall, Chair of Hadassah's Department of Orthopedic Surgery, was a member of the medical team that developed the new technology for Zimmer, a world leader in technologies and tools for orthopedic surgery.
As in airplanes, the gyroscope enables surgeons to situate the bone at the proper plane and gives them the precise angle for making an incision in the bone. The WiFi component provides communication between the tool on the patient's knee bone and the operating room computer. Together, the gyroscope and the WiFi give surgeons maximum accuracy, which results in less blood loss for the patient and reduces the need for a larger array of equipment.
To date, Prof. Liebergall, Dr. Yoav Mattan, Director of Hadassah's Joint Replacement Unit, and their colleagues Dr. Gurion Rivkin and Dr. Leonid Kandel, have performed successful knee replacements using the new procedure. In 2004, Prof. Liebergall and Dr. Mattan performed the world's first computer-assisted hip replacement, using Zimmer technology.
The International Society for Computer Assisted Orthopedic Surgery has designated Hadassah's Department of Orthopedic Surgery as a Center of Excellence for its outstanding accomplishments and its innovative use of new technologies and surgical tools.
Prof. Liebergall notes that "iASSIST is yet another step forward in the advancement of computer-assisted orthopedic surgery. We are proud that Hadassah continues to play such a pivotal role and that internationally recognized leaders in the field, such as Zimmer, launch their flagship products at Hadassah."
Read the article in The Jerusalem Post here>>
"For a growing number of public health professionals from 90 countries in Africa, Southeast Asia, South America, and other parts of the developing world, the road to career success and influence runs through Jerusalem," writes Judy Siegel-Itzkovich in her Jerusalem Post article about the graduates of the International Master's of Public Health (IMPH) program at the Hadassah-Hebrew University Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine.
Since 1971, Ms. Siegel-Itzkovich reports, more than 750 physicians, epidemiologists, nurses, pharmacists, and other medical personnel have received Hadassah's IMPH degree. Many of the IMPH alumni now have influential positions in the health systems of their native countries. Some are serving as health ministers or directors-general of health ministries.
They thank Hadassah for enabling them to alleviate disease and poverty and to promote health and development in their homelands.
Ms. Siegel-Itzkovich relates that "more than 60 alumni and almost 30 current IMPH students came to the capital's Jerusalem Gardens Hotel earlier this month for a nine-day reunion and workshop to learn about cutting-edge research in the field while exchanging professional experiences, challenges, and successes."
While Palestinians are an integral part of the Hadassah Medical Center's regular inpatient and outpatient populations, for the first time, a Hadassah physician went to a Nablus hospital within the Palestinian Authority to bring a Palestinian patient to Hadassah for treatment.
Hilmi Hasan, age 27, was shot in the abdomen during clashes among Palestinians, Israeli settlers, and the Israel Defense Forces in a village near Nablus. When his condition deteriorated, the young man's doctors decided that he needed a more advanced medical facility and Hadassah was their first choice. Since the patient was on a respirator and anesthetized and the Nablus hospital did not have the required equipment for such travel, it was necessary that an Israeli physician come to Nablus to prepare the patient for the trip and monitor him during his transit to Hadassah.
Dr. Micha Shamir, a senior Hadassah anesthesiologist with extensive experience in medical transfers, was approached and agreed immediately to go. Previously, Dr. Shamir helped to bring back an Israeli reporter who was wounded while working in Georgia and escorted a young Cincinnati, Ohio woman from Israel to New York for a liver transplantation.
Because Israelis are not allowed to go into the Palestinian-controlled West Bank, Hadassah had to coordinate with various authorities amidst the tense atmosphere in the area and recent increased level of hostilities. A Palestinian car, escorted by Palestinian security officers, took Dr. Shamir, a paramedic, and the Israeli Civil Administration Health Coordinator to the hospital in Nablus. In Nablus, Dr. Shamir orchestrated the preparation of the patient, who was then put into a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance. Heavily escorted by Palestinian Police, the group traveled to a checkpoint outside Nablus, where an Israeli Air Force helicopter was waiting to fly them to Hadassah.
"At no time were we under any real threat," commented Dr. Shamir. "We were guarded by so many policemen and security people; the convoy was much longer than the Prime Minister's convoy."
Hilmi Hasan was taken to Hadassah-Ein Kerem's Intensive Care Unit. His condition, as of this writing, is critical, but stable.Read about it in The Jerusalem Post>>
Read about it in the Jewish Press>>
One recent Friday night, frightened parents arrived at the emergency room of Hadassah Hospital-Mount Scopus with their eight-week-old son, who was struggling to breathe after his older brother had given him an unpitted date to eat.
Hadassah's Dr. Ira Erlichman quickly turned the baby upside down and tapped on his back until the date fell out. "The baby's very young age and his very small size did not enable him to swallow the pit completely," Dr. Erlichman explained.
Imagine having a compassionate physician who can understand what you’re saying whether you speak Hebrew, Arabic, English, Russian, Yiddish, Spanish or Bulgarian. Such is the new head of Hadassah Emergency Medicine Department Dr. Aziz Darawsha. “I can’t write poetry in all of those languages, but I can understand and express myself.”
Dr. Darawsha was born in an Arab village near Nazareth, the first of eleven children. “I was programmed to be a physician before I was born,” he said. His father was a farmer who had completed four years of elementary school. His mother, a housewife, never learned to read or write. “But she was very intelligent and a strict Mom,” said Dr. Darawsha. Three of his siblings are also doctors.
You need to be a lover of action to go into emergency medicine, he says. “Everyone says time is money, but for us, time is life.” He came to Emergency medicine from cardiology, and one of his areas of research focuses on cardiac emergencies as part of general emergency care.
He served as Chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Emek Medical Center in Afula in Northern Israel, not far from where he grew up.”I received offers from other big centers and turned them down. I came to Hadassah because I knew it was the best hospital in the Middle East and one of the best in the world.”
His goals are to make sure Hadassah Hospital fulfills the top standards of the very best American hospital emergency rooms. His biggest problem is overcrowding. “Look, it’s 9 AM, and we’re already backlogged with patients who need to be transferred to the wards. When the new Tower is fully operational, this should help.”
The patient mix in Afula was almost evenly mixed between Jews and Arabs. Hadassah has a greater variety of patients—more extremely religious Jews and Moslem,and more foreigners. “The biggest difference isn’t the patient population but the complexity of the injuries and disease. Because Hadassah has sophisticated departments like neurosurgery, the most complex cases are referred here.”
Dr. Darawsha praised the the Judy and Sidney Swartz Center for Emergency medicine, built after the intifada. “It’s modern and spacious,” he said.”We just have to work on patient-flow to overcome the back-up.”
Dr. Drawsha has four sons, one a graduate of Hadassah’s medical school, currently doing a fellowship in neurosurgery. His wife, a math teacher, and their 11-year old son will join him in Jerusalem at the end of the school year. In the meantime, he’s using his bachelor time to familiarize himself with every aspect of Hadassah. He’s at the hospital at least 12 hours a day, and is often called back for emergencies in the evening. Since 2010 he has served as President of the Israeli Association of Emergency Medicine. In 2011, he was named an Honorary member of the American College of Emergency Physicians.
“I’m very proud to be part of the Hadassah family, and to have the 330,000 women of Hadassah standing behind the work we do. I look forward to meeting them and describing the work that we do.”
An 84-year-old man, in critical condition, was brought to the Hadassah Medical Center; his daughter later wrote to salute Hadassah for the quality of concern her father experienced in Internal Medicine B on Mount Scopus.
Dr. Darawsha is the father of four children.
A patient who was hospitalized for two months in the Hadassah Medical Center's Psychiatry Department wrote to express his appreciation for the "unlimited dedication" of his physician.
When Hadassah Austria President Susi Shaked decided she could donate a Cartier watch that she no longer wore for auction in support of the Hadassah-Christie's Chagall Project, it occurred to her shortly thereafter that she might also be able to donate for auction some works of art that her husband's patients had created a number of years ago.
As a young doctor, Psychoanalyst Joseph Shaked had worked in a mental institution with patients who had been isolated from society for decades. In an effort to help these people, he and his colleagues motivated them to talk and to paint. In time, some of these patients became well- known artists. Periodically, Josef would receive works of art from them, which he kept in a folder. Susi took two of them to a local auction house and was told that buyers were interested in this sort of art. The paintings sold for over $3,500!
Bolstered by this success, Susi is now approaching another auction house--this time with jewelry a friend brought to her that had belonged to her mother. Susi is also considering the rare books she has at home that have been signed by their authors.
"So, slowly, I clear my life of superfluous belongings that can bring money now to Hadassah," Susi says. "All of us," she notes, "have things at home which we are better off to get rid of now for a good cause."
As for her watch--a gift from her parents from the Art Deco period--it was sold by Christie's during a London auction for 1,000 euros. The Christie's Chagall Project is raising funds for the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower at the Hadassah Medical Center. Susi's gift will go toward a piece of equipment.
For more about the Chagall Project,The Chagall Project and Christie's Fine Auction House Offer International Art Lovers the Opportunity of a Lifetime>>
Dr. Amal Bishara, initiator and head of the Hadassah Medical Center's Arab Bone Marrow Registry Outreach Project, has been named "an outstanding woman scientist in the Middle East and North Africa" by the United States Department of State.
One of 13 women to receive this honor, Dr. Bishara was presented with the certificate pictured above in a ceremony at the residence of US Ambassador to Israel HE Daniel Shapiro.
Begun in 2008 as part of Hadassah's Tissue Typing Unit and Donor Registry, the Arab registry--the only one in the world—has 15,000 potential donors in its data base and has been responsible for 22 fully matching bone marrow transplants. For more about the Arab Donor Registry Project, see Saudi Arabian Media Puts Positive Spotlight on Hadassah Medical Center's Bone Marrow Registry Outreach to Arabs.
About 200 health professionals--including 20 of the world's leading liver specialists from France, Germany, Israel, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States--attended an international conference on liver disease at the Hadassah Medical Center in January, where they honored Hadassah's Prof. Daniel Shouval upon his 70th birthday.
In 1983, Prof. Shouval established the first liver unit in Israel at Hadassah, which he directed for almost 30 years until his recent retirement. During his very long career at the Medical Center, Prof. Shouval was responsible for many breakthroughs, created generations of fine liver experts, and published many pivotal research papers. The new head of Hadassah's Liver Unit, Dr. Rifaat Safadi of Nazareth, had worked alongside Dr. Shouval for 20 years.
"Diagnosis and treatment of liver diseases has made very significant progress in recent years," notes Prof. Shouval. "Israel is among the most advanced countries in the world in preventing and treating viral liver diseases." Prof. Shouval's research and involvement were most influential in a decision by the Israeli government in 1999 to introduce a full-scale national vaccination program for babies against Hepatitis B. This led to a 95 percent decline in Hepatitis B for adults in Israel. Israel was among the first 10 countries worldwide to institute this program.
A former Dean of the Hadassah-Hebrew University Faculty of Medicine, Prof. Shouval currently serves as a professor of medicine at Hebrew University and a visiting professor at the Yeshiva University's Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. During his career, he has held similar positions at the Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and the University of Paris in France, and worked in several liver research centers in the United Kingdom, France, and the United States.
Prof. Shouval is the recipient of several national and international awards and the author of over 200 articles and chapters in medical text books. He served as President of the European Association for the Study of the Liver and Chairman of the Educational Committee of the European Association for the Study of the Liver. In this capacity, he became involved in education about Hepatology and the prevention of liver disease worldwide.
A permanent adviser to the European Viral Hepatitis Prevention Board and the World Health Organization, Prof. Shouval was Associate Editor of The Journal of Liver Transplantation and a member of the editorial boards of several leading hepatology journals.
The Conference, entitled "New Challenges in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Liver Diseases," was sponsored by Hadassah, the Hebrew University, and the European and Israeli societies for study of the liver.
Hadassah Medical Center surgeons recently performed a gastroenterological surgical procedure using the POEM (Per Oral Endoscopic Myotomy) method, which does not involve incisions. The surgery was aimed at treating a condition called achalasia, which compromises the ability of the esophagus to move food down to the stomach. The results may be backflow of food (regurgitation), chest pain, difficulty in swallowing, and heartburn.
Traditionally, surgeons employ laparoscopy or a surgical robot when operating on this problem. With the POEM method, the surgeon inserts an endoscope through the patient's mouth into the esophagus and makes a cut in the annular muscle of the esophagus. This relieves the pressure on the esophagus, allowing the food to pass down freely to the stomach.
"This is one of the procedures that will change general surgery completely and our department plays a key role in this process," says Dr. Yoav Mintz, who performed the procedure at Hadassah with his colleagues from the gastroenterology department. "Although the patient was operated on under full anesthesia, she wanted to go home that same night. I had to keep her almost by force for another 48 hours," he adds smiling.
Dr. Mintz was the successful finalist in an international competition for a two-year fellowship at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), where he worked with Prof.Mark Talmini and Prof. Santiago Horgan, world leaders in minimally invasive surgery and robotic surgery. When he completed his fellowship, he returned to Hadassah to implement the new techniques and vision. He continues to collaborate with his colleagues at UCSD, also serving as Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Surgery there.
As part of the Hadassah Medical Center's ART-Joy-Love project in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, devoted to helping orphans with HIV/AIDS, Hadassah's health professionals once again traveled to Ethiopia for a multi-layered outreach—this time including an art show which showcased the work of talented teenagers from the orphanages.
During their school vacation, 15 talented teenagers from the orphanages were invited by ART-Joy-Love to create works of art, guided by well-known local artists from the Netsa Art Village in Addis Ababa. Their art was then exhibited at the School of Fine Arts and Design at Addis Ababa University, preceded by a gala opening ceremony at the school under the auspices of the Embassy of Israel in Ethiopia, sponsored by ART-Joy-Love, along with AHOPE, Artists for Charity, Netsa Art Village, and Fekat Circus. All the children from two orphanages were invited to attend and see a performance by Israeli and Ethiopian medical clowns ("Dream Doctors") and the Fekat Circus. The Addis Ababa dream doctors belong to the circus.
The art show was the culmination of over a week of activities for the children and their caregivers. Hadassah Psychologist Ahuva Yavin-Arnon and Social worker Estelle Rubinstein of Hadassah's Pediatric AIDS Center led a seminar for the caregivers of three orphanages on psychosocial issues during adolescence. Hadassah's medical clowns-- Dudi, Titto, and Tilli--trained their local colleagues, accompanying them to the orphanages and also to the pediatric department at the Black Lion University Hospital in Addis Ababa.
ART-Joy-Love was founded by Prof. Dan Engelhard, head of Hadassah's Pediatric AIDS Center, Pediatric Infectious Disease Unit, as well as ART-Joy-Love.
After being told there was no treatment that could save him, a Florida attorney with stage four melanoma received a new lease on life when he was accepted into a personally tailored melanoma vaccine clinical trial at the Hadassah Medical Center.
Stewart Greenberg and his wife, Maggie, had decided to go on a Miami Jewish Federation mission to Israel, together with other members of their synagogue. Shortly afterward, he was diagnosed with stage four melanoma. Facing a devastating risk of metastasis, Stewart consulted various physicians, but they were unable to offer him any strategic plan to combat this grave prognosis--including those at the United States National Institutes of Health.
Hadassah Life Member Caryn Montague, who was helping him with his disability insurance, asked Stewart if he would like her to try to get him an appointment at the Hadassah Medical Center to meet with a melanoma specialist while he was in Jerusalem on the mission. Stewart received an appointment with Dr. Michal Lotem, head of the Center for Melanoma and Cancer Immunotherapy at Hadassah's Sharett Institute of Oncology.
"You just felt good meeting her," Stewart relates. Dr. Lotem has been conducting clinical trials with a personalized melanoma vaccine for 10 years. "As far as I know," Stewart says, "this particular clinical trial is not being conducted anywhere else—and I have done a lot of research."
The treatment process involves taking tissue from the melanoma patient or as in Stewart's case, matching the patient's tissue type and using donors' melanoma lines to create more cells, which are then irradiated and injected into the patient. The cells work like a vaccine, triggering the patient's immune system.
Stewart and Maggie, a Hadassah life member, moved to Jerusalem for 99 days." Maggie has been there and done everything with me," Stewart relates. "We went on the mission together. She and I went to the hospital together. We are a team. Every cancer patient should be as lucky as I am to have such a fantastic partner and support. Without her love, encouragement, and support, I would not have been able to take this journey. She is my rock and my angel."
Stewart's treatment involved 21 injections of the vaccine over a 90-day period. "Hadassah is an incredible place," he says--"caring, sweet, loving, with such respect for the patients." During that time, he relates, he not only received terrific care, but he and Maggie also made great friends, were invited to celebrate many family occasions with those they met, as well as being given the opportunity to attend a swearing-in ceremony for Israeli paratroopers.
As an attorney who specializes in medical malpractice, Stewart has interacted with many doctors. "Never," he says, "have I met doctors like Prof. Lotem." At midnight, he relates, she was answering his e-mails. While he was at the hospital, he witnessed her taking calls from all around the world regarding patients she has treated. Dr. Lotem is now looking toward additional research on a "second-generation" melanoma vaccine.
"When people think of Israel," Stewart notes, "they think of sand and soldiers; camels and war. I would like them to know about the biomedical achievements and how Israel contributes to the health of our world." He brings out, too, that relations between Israel and countries where there is no relationship are built because people from those countries receive quality care at Hadassah.
Before his illness, Stewart knew little about Hadassah and was unaware of the breadth of its impact. He has shared his story with the members of several Hadassah chapters in Florida and does so with great enthusiasm.
Stewart will be returning to Hadassah for a booster treatment in March. "Prof. Lotem," he says, "has given me a chance to fight."
To empower and encourage women to make life choices that will preserve a healthy heart, the Hadassah Medical Center has received a ten-million dollar gift to create the Linda Joy Pollin Cardiovascular Wellness Institute.
The gift was given by psychotherapist Irene Pollin, founder and chair of Sister to Sister, a 13-year-old organization devoted to preventing heart disease in women. The Institute is named for her daughter, who was born with a congenital heart condition that she bravely fought for 16 years before it took her life. Since the founding of Sister to Sister in Washington, D.C., Mrs. Pollin explains, "I have longed to find a place outside of the United States to establish a heart disease prevention program geared toward women. Given Hadassah's 100 years of experience helping women of all backgrounds take better care of themselves, I could not think of a better way to reach out to our sisters across the globe than establishing the Linda Joy Pollin Institute at the Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem. Heart disease knows no boundaries, and neither will we."
The data collected in Israel about heart disease and the risks for women will become part of an international data base, which will be a major resource for researchers.
Dr. Donna Zfat-Zwas, Director of the Wellness Institute, already has numerous plans in the works. Two fundamental facts shape her outreach: "Cardiovascular disease differs in women"; "Much of heart disease is preventable."
The Center, which is housed in the Hadassah Medical Center's Heart Institute, will have a high-risk clinic, where research and gender-appropriate health education and care will be available. The clinic, Dr. Zfat-Zwas reports, will be a "one-stop shop." The staff will include a specially trained nurse, nutritionist, fitness specialist, and mental health professional. The idea, she says, "is to think behaviorally"—to ask the question, "What interventions will fit into this individual's lifestyle?" Once that question is answered, the person should leave the clinic with a plan. The Center will have a website as well, with text not only in Hebrew, but also in English, Russian, and Arabic.
In addition to running the clinic at Hadassah, the Center will reach out into various communities—particularly those that are underserved, such as the Haredi and Arabic populations--using an "ecological model." Taking into consideration environmental and social factors, this model involves forming partnerships with community leaders, organizations, and the local schools, as well as working with Hadassah's Patricia and Russell Fleischman Center for Women's Health, the Hadassah-Hebrew University Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine, and the Israel Heart Society. For example, Dr. Zfat-Zwas explains, it is important to ensure that the right foods are available in the supermarket; that there is a place in the locality to exercise; that there are workshops for mothers and teacher training in the school systems.
Raised in Michigan, Dr. Zfat-Zwas is a graduate of Barnard (New York) College and Harvard (Massachusetts) Medical School. The mother of four children, she is married to Jonathan Huppert, who heads the clinical psychology department at the Hebrew University. They immigrated to Israel five years ago from Philadelphia, where Dr. Zfat-Zwas was Director of the Echocardiography Laboratory at Jefferson University Hospital. "I went into cardiology because we often make very ill people better," Dr. Zfat-Zwas notes. She explains that even in Israel, where there is advanced medicine, "we're behind in terms of raising the consciousness of women and even many physicians about the risks of heart disease."
"Women often blame new problems like shortness of breath on gaining weight when it's their heart that needs attention," Dr. Zfat-Zwas notes. "They also take longer to get to the emergency room when they are experiencing a heart attack. They are reluctant to come--embarrassed, unwilling to trouble their family members, or worried that, for sure, their complaints will be dismissed." She cautions: "You should never be embarrassed to check on your heart."
Dr. Zfat-Zwas adds: "We are determined to come up with solutions, to design programs that fit into the busy lives of women."
The Linda Joy Pollin Cardiovascular Wellness Institute will be part of a larger ongoing collaboration between Sister to Sister and Hadassah in the United States, aimed at raising awareness among women about heart disease and prevention. Aside from hosting educational programs locally, Hadassah will join forces to promote "Smart for the Heart," Sister to Sister's web-based heart health tool that provides free online health risk assessments and offers recommendations and resources for making healthier lifestyle choices that will help decrease the risk of heart disease. For more information about Hadassah's American initiatives to promote a healthy heart, contact Hadassah's Department of Women's Health at email@example.com
The ALS PhaseI/II safety trial of Brainstorm Cell Therapeutics' NurOwn stem cell therapy has been fast tracked to a Phase IIa dose-escalating trial by Israel's Ministry of Health and will be launched "immediately" at the Hadassah Medical Center, reports this leading developer of adult stem cell technologies for neurodegenerative diseases.
Prof. Dimitrios Karussis, Principal Investigator of BrainStorm's Phase I/II trial and head of the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Hadassah, commented: "Based on the positive results we have seen for the first 12 patients, we are eager to begin the next stage of clinical testing, and are delighted that the Ministry of Health has given us the green light to proceed to Phase IIa."
"Acceleration to Phase IIa will save us critical time, enabling us to proceed much more quickly with achieving our goal of developing an effective treatment for ALS," said Dr. Adrian Harel, BrainStorm's Chief Executive Officer.
In the Phase IIa trial, the second group of 12 patients from the initial cohort of 24 will receive combined intramuscular and intrathecal administration of NurOwn cells in three cohorts, with increasing doses. The study participants, who have already been recruited, will be followed for three to six months after transplantation.
BrainStorm plans to expand its clinical development to the United States in 2013, pending approval by the Food and Drug Administration. The company has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital to begin ALS human clinical trials at these medical facilities.
BrainStorm's NurOwn is a first-of-its-kind adult stem cell therapy for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases derived from autologous bone marrow cells.
In treating a patient who suffered from massive congestive heart failure and a malfunctioning liver, Dr. Yuval Horwich, a resident in the department of internal medicine at the Hadassah Medical Center, discovered that the man had eaten a poisonous mushroom, which he had picked in the Jerusalem forest. The patient was a forester by profession and Dr. Horwich assumed he knew what he was eating. Nevertheless, he decided to investigate. Using a GPS (Global Positioning System), he located the exact spot in the forest where this type of mushroom grew, picked another mushroom, and sent it to a specialist at Haifa University.
It turned out to be a type of poisonous mushroom that had not been found in Israel before. Prevalent in Europe under the name, Amanita Proxima B, the mushroom looks exactly like an eatable type named Amanita Ovoidea A.
The forester recovered and Israeli nature lovers now have another poisonous mushroom to avoid.
Researchers at the Hadassah Medical Center are investigating the connection between lower levels of the hormone, oxytocin, during pregnancy and the development of autism.
The study, led by Dr. David Mankuta, head of Labor and Delivery at Hadassah, in partnership with Prof. Nurit Yirmiya of the Hebrew University, will also examine the link between overexposure to oxytocin during birth and the development of autism.
Called the "love hormone," oxytocin has been found to be present at higher levels in couples who recently became romantically involved. The hormone has also been credited with playing a role in the bonding process between a mother and her newborn infant.
Dr. Mankuta explains: "There are drugs to prevent early contractions which are given routinely in some pregnancies that inhibit the effects of oxytocin. We will examine whether their use might be linked to the development of autism. In addition, we are examining whether the administration of oxytocin to induce labor might be harmful down the road and stimulate autism." It could be that administration of the hormone at this juncture may depress the body's natural secretion of oxytocin, thus increasing the newborn's risk of developing autism later on.
Studies have demonstrated that children with autism have lower levels of oxytocin in their blood—as little as half that of people without autism. One Hadassah study revealed a decline in the immunological components that operate the oxytocin system. Although autism is not diagnosed in children younger than two or three years old, there are anatomical markers that are more common in children who are later diagnosed with autism.
These include arched palate and a relatively large head circumference. In addition, certain risk factors for autism have been identified. To help parents who have children with autism to reduce the likelihood of having another child with the disease, Hadassah Hospital-Ein Kerem has opened a perinatology-oriented clinic. This is not a clinic for diagnosing autism or treating children who have autism; rather, parents of an autistic child who want more children come there for consultation. Dr. Mankuta believes that "with certain interventions, the risk for developing autism can be reduced for the future siblings of a child who has already been diagnosed with autism."
For example, autism is four times more prevalent in boys than in girls. Parents have the option to have a pre-implantation diagnosis and select female embryos only for implantation. Older fathers have a higher chance of having children with autism, so parents can be encouraged not to wait too long to have another child or to consider freezing the husband's sperm.
When the mother becomes pregnant, she can be given treatments such as progesterone to reduce the risk of preterm birth, steroids to accelerate development of the unborn baby's lungs, and aspirin to reduce the risk of preeclampsia—all factors that have been implicated in the development of autism. For a fuller story on autism and oxytocin, see Dan Even's January 2013 article in Ha'aretz, "The Love Hormone-Autism Connection."For a fuller story on autism and oxytocin, see Dan Even's January 2013 article in Ha'aretz, "The Love Hormone-Autism Connection."
A woman with a malignant melanoma who was treated at the Hadassah Medical Center wrote to say that her Hadassah surgeon cared for her "with endless devotion."
"Dr. Sharon Merims and Dr. Michal Lotem from the Oncology Department sent me to Dr. Bilal Alian in the Department of Surgery in Mt. Scopus to remove a malignant melanoma I had. Dr. Alian was above and beyond my expectations. He operated on me very professionally and cared for me with endless devotion, caring for me and my family. In addition to regular doctors rounds he called to ask how I was feeling and to tell me how the surgery was.
The nurses in the surgery department in Mt. Scopus are a very rare species. I do not want to mention names because each one of them was wonderful. I was asked many times how I felt, if I needed anything, if I was in pain etc. They were always so patient, nice, and outgoing. They gave the patients the feeling that they were the only people they cared for.
Whenever my husband was there he was asked if he wanted to eat something. Since I am tall, they searched and found an especially long bed for me. These are only two examples of how great they were, to me, and to all the other patients in the department.
Hadassah can be proud for having such extraordinary team of doctors and nurses."
When 35-year-old Hila failed to conceive despite 13 rounds of treatment in 4 different centers in Israel, fertility specialists at the Hadassah Medical Center suggested they try a slightly different approach.
Instead of implanting the embryos right away following in vitro fertilization, Hadassah's physicians proposed that the embryos be frozen and implanted during Hila's next natural menstrual cycle, when the body's natural mucus environment would be more conducive to pregnancy than during a treatment cycle. Hila did become pregnant, but the fetus aborted at seven weeks. She pressed the physicians to try again. This time, following the same procedure of implanting the embryo during her next natural cycle, Hila gave birth to a healthy baby girl!
Two of Israel's leading health reporters chose interesting angles to their year-end articles. Hadassah is the only Israeli hospital they mention.
Sarit Rosenbloom of "Yedi'ot Acharonot" listed her choice of the ten most important medical developments in 2012. Two of them came from Hadassah, the only Israeli hospital represented. The list included – The development of new generation of medications for obesity; publication of new warnings regarding side affects of Statins as an effective medication to lower Cholesterol; no breakthrough in cancer treatment this year; the appearance of a new lethal SARS like virus – Corona; the upcoming reform in the regulation of mental health services in Israel; the case of the leaking silicon grafts for breast plastic surgeries; development of a female condom; development of an artificial nose with breathing abilities; ALS clinical trial at Hadassah and a Hadassah research that showed a sharp decline in the fertility of Israeli men sperm.
Dan Even of Ha'aretz described 2012 as "the year of stem cells", and listed several recently published research projects in the USA and Japan together with Hadassah researchers who were the first in the world to be able earlier this year to produce stem cells based on human tissues only with no animal originated components in them at all.Click here for more news about Hadassah Medical Organization>>
A mother of a child with Down Syndrome, who recently immigrated to Israel, shared her great admiration and appreciation for the Hadassah Medical Center's National Center for Down Syndrome.
Dear Dr. Kokia,
I wanted to take a minute to share with you my recent experience at your hospital, Hadassah-Mount Scopus, in the National Center for Down Syndrome.
We are new Olim who arrived here in Eretz Yisroel in October 2012. We have six children, of which our middle child has Down Syndrome. The recommendation for us to visit your Center was made to us by Dr. Irene Anteby, Director of the Center for Pediatric Ophthalmology at Hadassah-Ein Kerem (who as an aside is absolutely amazing). My daughter Ahuva is seeing her for her vision problems and was referred to us by our previous ophthalmologist in the US. Due to the nature of my daughter's eye problems and due to her difficult exam, we need to have an exam under anesthesia. Dr. Anteby suggested the Down Syndrome Center as a place we could go to have my daughter's health fully evaluated.
I have to preface the remainder of my letter by saying that in all honesty, I was skeptical. In the US we had been to a top-rated Down Syndrome Center at a top University Hospital Program and I had been very disappointed by my experience there. The center was one in which all they did was have a pediatrician who specialized in children with Downs evaluate your child and provide you with a list of recommended specialists. It was then up to me, the parent, to find phone numbers, make appointments, and collect the information to then share with the center. Very much a "non- center" and honestly I did not go frequently as I felt it was not worth my time. Adding to my negative experience in the US was our concern regarding quality of care for our daughter once we moved to Israel.
Today, after having our appointment at the Hadassah National Center for Down Syndrome, I have to tell you how thoroughly impressed I am. I am no longer skeptical. Not only did the staff understand my need to be seen in a timely manner (my daughter needs the exam under anesthesia in the next month or two), but it was TRULY a one stop shop. From the time we got to the clinic to the time we left, my daughter and I moved from one specialist to the next, never feeling rushed. I felt that each provider we met, each staff person was courteous, knowledgeable, and truly wanted to help us. I have never seen such a well run system. It was fantastic knowing that my special child was being talked to and treated not as a Down's syndrome child, rather a child with Down's syndrome. Despite my limited spoken Ivrit, the staff was patient and able to answer all my questions.
As a medical provider in the US, I have used my knowledge not only clinically but also my network of medical professionals to seek out top quality doctors to care for my child. This is partly due to my previous experiences of providers not listening to my concerns. I felt that today at the National Center for Down Syndrome, the clinicians were responsive to my concerns, and willing to listen to my ideas. Furthermore, as a medical provider I have not seen such a well run center. In theory all centers should work the way the National Center for Down Syndrome does.
I wanted to take the time to personally thank you for providing such a fantastic service to patients and families like myself. We cannot begin to express how pleased we were today with the services we received. Everyone--from reception to the nurse, Yael, the pediatric pulmonologist, Dr. Malena Cohn, Shifra, the social worker, the physio-therapist, Nama, ENT Dr. Ben Yaakov, the developmental psychologist, Penina and, of course, Dr. Ariel Tenenbaum (head of the Center)-- everyone was amazing. Each one was a top quality medical provider.
My husband and I feel confident that we have found a place that offers quality specialized healthcare for our daughter--Hadassah Hospital. Not only does the Hospital house the National Center for Down Syndrome but with providers like Dr. Irene Anteby, we are certain we are in good hands.
When a 50-year-old man came to the Hadassah Medical Center with a mysterious fever and difficulty breathing, the cause was difficult to determine and standard treatment for his clinical systems did not stop his decline.
One after another his bodily systems began to fail. Hadassah's physicians suspected Q fever (a bacterial disease), even though initial test results for the disease were negative, so they followed their suspicion and treated him accordingly. Repeat tests yielded a borderline Q fever diagnosis, but after a few days, a positive result confirmed the physicians had been correct. The patient improved with the proper antibiotic and supportive therapy and, following a lengthy rehabilitation, was able to return to work.
Dr. Philip Toltzis, Interim Chief of the Division of Pharmacology and Critical Care at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, a teaching hospital of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, has been appointed Director of Pediatric Intensive Care. He succeeds the late Dr. Ido Yatziv and Acting Director Dr. Jacques Braun.
While in Cleveland, Dr. Toltzis also served as Professor of Pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Phi Beta Kappa, and the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Dr. Toltzis simultaneously served as a Clinical Fellow in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts and as a Research Fellow in Infectious Diseases at Harvard Medical School in Boston. He subsequently served as a Clinical and Research Fellow in the Division of Pharmacology and Critical Care at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital.
As a leader in his field, Dr. Toltzis has been invited to sit on a variety of national committees in the United States. Most recently, he was a member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion Working Group on Ventilator-Associated Events.
Dr. Toltzis comes to Hadassah with an extensive research resume, as well as academic and clinical accomplishments which have garnered him numerous awards, honors, and grants. A member of the editorial board of the Journal of Pediatrics, he has authored and co-authored more than 70 articles that have been published in prestigious medical journals as well as chapters in more than 20 textbooks.
Professor Shimon Reif, a specialist in pediatrics and pediatric gastroenterology and Chair of the Pediatric Division at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, has been appointed head of Pediatrics at Hadassah Hospital-Ein Kerem. He is replacing Prof. Dan Engelhard, who has completed 10 years in the role and will now continue to serve as head of Hadassah's Pediatric Infectious Diseases Unit and Pediatric AIDS Center.
A graduate of the School of Medicine at the Technion in Haifa, Prof. Reif served as a military field doctor in the Paratroopers Brigade of the Israel Defense Forces. The father of five children, he took his residency in pediatrics at the Sourasky Medical Center and specialized in pediatric gastroenterology at the Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo, NY. Prof. Rief also did post-graduate work in the Division of Digestive Diseases at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
Serving as Secretary of Israel's Society for Liver Cancer and Secretary of Israel's Society of Clinical Pediatrics, Prof. Reif is also Chair of Israel's Association for Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition and Associate Editor of the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology. Prof. Reif has published more than 100 articles in prestigious medical journals, such as Pediatric Medicine and Pediatric Gastroenterology and Liver Diseases. He is frequently called on to present his research at national and international professional conferences.
One of the first hospitals in the world to acquire a lithotripter--which revolutionized the elimination of kidney stones with noninvasive shock wave therapy—the Hadassah Medical Center today houses the largest Kidney Stone Treatment Center in Israel.
Since 1985 when Hadassah began treating patients with shock wave lithotripsy, the Center has retired its first unit, replacing it in August 2010 with the more sophisticated Dornier Gemini lithotripter. The new machine causes less discomfort to patients and requires milder sedation. Where previously patients needed to be placed in a special bath for the treatment, they now undergo the hour procedure fully clothed, lying on a bed.
Hadassah's lithotripsy patients have ranged from a five-year-old girl who had a large stone in her right kidney, to a middle-aged woman with a renal pelvis stone, to a 107-year-old man who developed a stone in the upper part of his ureter. The middle-aged woman had been originally scheduled for surgery at another hospital to remove the stone, but decided to seek a second opinion at Hadassah. While Dr. Duvdevani, Director of Hadassah's Lithotripsy and Endo-Urology units, agreed that the size and location of the stone did make the woman a candidate for surgery, he suggested that she try one lithotripsy treatment to see if surgery could be avoided. Dr. Duvdevani dilated her ureter by inserting a stent, which also created an easier exit for the stone fragments. The lithotripsy proved successful in shattering the stone, which within four weeks passed out normally through her urine.
Dr. Duvdevani serves on a seven-member international committee that determines which medical centers throughout the world will be authorized to conduct fellowships in endo-urology, thereby shaping this specialty for the future. The Endo-Urological Society has authorized Hadassah to be the first non-American/non European Medical Center to conduct fellowships in endo-urology. The first fellow to train at Hadassah is a physician from India.Click here for more news from Hadassah Medical Organization>>
An eight-year-old girl was having difficulty breathing and was scheduled for a bronchoscopy at the Hadassah Medical Center; Hadassah's physicians discovered that a large mass was the cause.
The little girl had lost consciousness while having an x-ray, which revealed a large mass. Within minutes, two anesthesiologists, three lung specialists, and an Intensive Care Unit specialist arrived at the hospital. A bronchoscopy was performed, the girl was stabilized, and subsequently sent for thoracic surgery, where a nonmalignant Shwannoma mass was successfully removed.
When a 53-year-old man was hospitalized at the Hadassah Medical Center in unstable condition, suffering from sepsis, a severe systemic inflammatory response, an extensive set of tests revealed that he had been bitten by a microorganism called Rickettsia.
The man's life was at risk. For about a week, he could not be moved at all since any slight movement could cause a radical slowing of his heart rhythm or cardiac arrest. He underwent a number of resuscitations. After about two weeks, however, his condition stabilized and he was able to be transferred from cardiac intensive care to an internal medicine unit. His recovery called for a long rehabilitation, but he was on his way back to health.
Identifying the defective gene that has caused neuropathy in children of North African descent, physician/researchers at the Hadassah Medical Center have employed an experimental drug to prevent permanent paralysis of both muscle and vocal cords in four children.
The rare genetic disease, whereby erosion of the myelin (the coating on the nerves) impedes the nerves’ ability to transmit signals from the spinal cord to the muscles of the limbs, is referred to as “The Curse” by the susceptible population. Seemingly healthy babies developed paralysis after contracting a viral infection. Prof. Orly ElPeleg, head of the Department of Genetics and Metabolic Diseases, and Prof. Dror Mevorach, head of Internal Medicine B and the Center of Rheumatology Research at Hadassah Hospital-Ein Kerem, report that since all the children were of North African origin and one of the families had two children with the condition, they were able to identify the defective gene using advanced technology.
Whether it is from a pregnant woman needing to spend part of her pregnancy as an inpatient or a cancer patient receiving chemotherapy, the Hadassah University Medical Center receives letters of appreciation on a daily basis.
“When I was pregnant, I was admitted for observation to Maternity B at Hadassah Hospital-Mount Scopus for 10 days. I met a kind, professional, calm, attentive, and practical nursing team, who gave an immediate response to every question or request. I don't think one can overemphasize the importance of the above-mentioned qualities in a situation where a pregnant woman has to spend part of her pregnancy in a hospital under close observation. Yasher coach (Congratulations) to all the staff and especially each and every nurse who literally escorted me on Maternity B.”--L.S.
“I would like to thank the entire team at the oncology day care center for outstanding work, their devotion to the patients, and all the good things that happened there to my sister during a very long and difficult cycle of chemotherapy. She received excellent treatment, and I will not mention names in order not to miss anyone. But Dr. David Edelman deserves a special huge thank you for bringing her to believe again that there was still hope, and that she was not going to die within four months as she was told in another hospital. It was a very difficult year for us--treatments and repeated travel from northern Israel to Jerusalem and back. I am proud for you that you have such a dedicated team. I am so happy that you gave me my sister back--with a major remission in her condition and normal-level markers.”—M.S.
To foster creative new research, Hadasit, the Hadassah Medical Center's technology transfer arm, has instituted "The Brunch Club," bringing together Hadassah physician/researchers and industry professionals who work in related fields.
Explaining the goal of the Brunch Club, Hadasit Chief Executive Officer Dr. Einat Zisman noted, "I believe that making the connection between science and industry will help our doctors learn about the trends in the relevant industry and give them a chance to meet and brainstorm with industry professionals. These meetings could spark new ideas and new research projects that could be developed with an eye to their commercial, as well as medical, potential." Pointing out that industry is quick to recognize a possible product, Dr. Zisman cited the case of Johnson & Johnson recently signing a research and option agreement with Hadasit to develop a new antidepressant based on early research being conducted by Prof. Benjamin Lerer, Director of Hadassah's Biological Psychiatry Laboratory.
To develop a unique stent locator based on the work of three Hadassah Medical Center heart specialists, Hadasit, Hadassah's Technology Transfer Company, has created an incubator company entitled AOL Medical.
Stemming from the research of Prof. Chaim Lotan, Director of Hadassah's Heart Institute, Dr. Haim Danenberg, Director of Interventional Cardiology, and Invasive Cardiologist Dr. Boris Varshitzky, this unique locator is designed to assist cardiologists in positioning the stent in the heart's vascular branches.
The evolution of AOL Medical is an example of Hadasit being there to give Hadassah's physician/researchers an added edge in bringing their ideas to fruition and ensuring that these ideas arrive at the marketplace, where they can have a worldwide impact.
Hadassah Medical Center Chief Engineer Beli Deutsch, while exploring natural tracks in Nepal, celebrated Hadassah's 100th anniversary on the Laurebina Pass some 15,300 feet above sea level. "I was very sorry I missed the Hadassah Centennial Celebration in Jerusalem," he says, "so I arranged a celebration for myself!"
Carrying triplets, a 49-year-old woman was rushed to the Hadassah Medical Center's High-risk Pregnancy Unit when she experienced swollen legs and contractions during her 26th week of pregnancy.
"Her legs were so swollen that she arrived at the hospital in a wheelchair, terrified that she would lose her babies," relates Orit Vinograd, Head Nurse of the Unit. When Hadassah's medical staff swung into action, they first gave the woman medication to slow and then stop the early contractions. They treated the swelling and gave her reflexology, physiotherapy, and occupational therapy. After a 10-week stay in the hospital, the woman gave birth to two boys and a girl!
The Hadassah Medical Center's radiologists and oncologists joined forces to save the life and the sight of a seven-year-old girl afflicted with a cancerous tumor in her eye that was causing her eyeball to bulge out of its socket.
With the help of an innovative simulator, Hadassah's physicians, under the guidance of Dr. Marc Wygoda, Director of the Radiation Onocology Unit, were able to pinpoint the precise location of the girl's tumor. They identified the optimal radiation fields so that they could prevent the radiation from harming nearby healthy tissue. Thanks to a combination of this high-dose radiation and chemotherapy, the patient is now a healthy young girl, with her eyeball back in its socket, full use of both eyes, and the promise for a bright future.
When a woman who needed dental surgery became hysterical with fear as she drove up to the hospital, unable to gain the courage to enter, Hadassah Medical Center Senior Anesthesiologist Prof. Alex Avidan and Prof. Eliezer Kauffman, Director of Dental Anesthesia, came out to her car, all the necessary equipment in tow, and gave her some anesthetic--while she was still seated in her car. Once she was on her way to falling asleep, they carried her out, put her on a gurney, covered her with a blanket, and brought her into an operating room. When she woke up, she was already in the recovery room.
Dr. Itai Berger, Director of Hadassah's Pediatric Neuro-Cognitive Center, and his team have created a model for early diagnosis and intervention with children who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Learning Disabilities (LD,) which is being piloted in the Jerusalem school system.
Acting out in school and underachieving are often indications that children have cognitive problems, explains Dr. Berger. "If the underlying issues are not addressed," he says, "these children become vulnerable to a cycle of frustration and failure that may interfere with their healthy development and impair their functional capacity in the future." Children with LD and ADHD are, for example, more prone to road accidents and substance abuse later in life. Early diagnosis and treatment, he says, helps prevent problems with the children's self-image, social skills, academic performance, and behavior.
Cognitive problems, Dr. Berger relates, affect 10 to 15 percent of Israeli children. Acutely aware that even under the best of circumstances he and his staff would be unable to cope with the number of children involved, he turned to the Jerusalem school system for help in screening the young population. Outsourcing this essential first step, Dr. Berger noted, could significantly shorten the waiting list at the Neuro-cognitive Center, which is now up to one year.
First Dr. Berger and his team created a set of guidelines to identify children in need. Working with the Jerusalem's Department of Education, they prepared a course for the Educational/Psychology Service. Then, 70 psychologists from throughout the city participated in a special course conducted with the Hebrew University to help them understand the problems children with cognitive disabilities face and to ensure that children with challenges don't fall through the cracks.
The model program for preliminary screening is now being tested in one Jerusalem school district. It consists of a structured personal interview with the child to detect medical and psychological issues and a special questionnaire for the child's teachers and parents. "After the first 100 children are seen, we will evaluate the program and the results, correlating them with the opinions of the parents and the teachers," Dr. Berger explains.
Ultimately, Dr. Berger would like to see the model adopted throughout Israel. "We are saving children who could get lost in the shuffle," he comments. "We are giving them hope."
The Hadassah University Medical Center, for the first time in Israel, has pioneered a new treatment for liver cancer, using a direct flow of high-voltage electric current to destroy a malignant tumor.
Typically, a cancerous growth in the liver proves fatal, but this new procedure offers hope to those suffering from liver cancer, such as Louis Saznovsky, Hadassah's first patient to receive the treatment.
Mr. Saznovsky explains that because his cancerous growth was attached to blood vessels, it was difficult to reach and remove. The new procedure--Irreversible Electroporation--"does not generate excessive heat or cold in the body and can therefore be applied close to blood vessels and vital organs without harming them," explains Dr. Mouhammad Faroja, Hadassah senior surgeon, who learned the procedure at London's Hammersmith Hospital.
Requiring just a few minutes under anesthesia, the electroporation was a complete success. Mr. Saznovsky, left with only a few scars where the tumor had been, has already returned to work.
Dr. Ezekiel Landau, Director of the Pediatric Urology Department at the Hadassah University Medical Center, recently joined his surgical colleagues in the operating room at Cincinnati (Ohio) Children's Hospital Medical Center as part of an ongoing collaboration between the two medical institutions.
While in Cincinnati, Dr. Landau performed operations together with Dr. Pramod Reddy, Chief of the Urology Center, as well as Dr. Marc Levitt, Director of the Colorectal Center. Dr. Landau noted that "they are utilizing the da Vinci robotic surgery system here (also in use at Hadassah) and performing some very unique operations at Cincinnati Children's. I am looking forward to taking what I have learned in the operating room back to Hadassah."
While in Cincinnati, Dr. Landau also met with Cincinnati Hadassah Chapter President Bonnie Juran Ullner and National Hadassah Board Member Carol Ann Schwartz. When Dr. Landau noted that this was his first visit with Hadassah leadership in the United States, Mrs. Schwartz responded, "We will make sure that this won't be your last!"
A clinical trial with TL-118--a new treatment for metastatic pancreatic cancer--that has been ongoing at the Hadassah University Medical Center and three other oncology centers in Israel, has been expanded to the United States.
TL-118. produced by Tiltan Pharma Ltd., belongs to the family of angiogenesis-inhibiting drugs, which means it inhibits new blood vessel formation in tumors and thus cuts off their blood supply and growth. Angiogenesis, the process by which new blood vessels are formed, is a hallmark capability of cancer cells. Anti-angiogenic therapy has, therefore, emerged as a most promising strategy with solid tumors, which rely on aggressive angiogenesis for their growth.
The new United States trial will be conducted at White Plains (NY) Hospital, and will include patients who have been newly diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer and not yet treated with any chemotherapy. A control group will receive standard chemotherapy, while the treatment group will receive TL-118 in addition to chemotherapy.
Dr. Dan Costin, Co-Medical Director of the White Plains Hospital cancer program and Principal Investigator for the TL-118 study at White Plains Hospital, related: "We are happy to introduce this cutting-edge therapy to our pancreatic cancer patients. Unfortunately, metastatic pancreatic cancer is a disease with very poor prognosis and we are urgently seeking new solutions that might enhance survival."
TL-118 was initially tested in a mouse model of pancreatic cancer. In these pre-clinical studies, TL-118 monotherapy inhibited tumor growth significantly, as compared to the standard-of-care chemotherapy. Moreover, when TL-118 therapy was combined with standard-of-care chemotherapy, the tumors were eliminated in all the treated animals.
To date, over 100 cancer patients have been treated with TL-118 for up to four years, according to Tiltan Pharma, jointly owned by Yissum, the Hebrew University's Technology Transfer Company, and other investors from Israel and Canada.
Through his long-time collaboration with the St. John Eye Hospital in East Jerusalem, Prof. Saul Merin, Hadassah University Medical Center ophthalmologist, was a role model for building bridges between Israelis and Palestinians through medicine
Prof. Merin, who passed away in August, played a major role in training Palestinian ophthalmologists working in the Palestinian Authority and created close working relationships between Hadassah and colleagues at St. John. Born in a small town on the border between Poland and Germany, Prof. Merin managed to escape deportation to the Auschwitz concentration camp on August 3, 1943. A child at the time, he was hidden in Będzin in southwest Poland, until the arrival of the Soviet army in January 1945. He emigrated to Israel in 1949.
Prof. Merin, author of the seminal ophthalmology text entitled Inherited Eye Diseases, served as a part-time consultant at St. John since 2001. When The Peres Center for Peace announced that it would fund a joint fellowship program which enabled St. John medical residents to train at Hadassah, Prof. Merin became Hadassah's representative at St. John. "I find that the doctors, nurses, and practitioners speak and think the same way I do," Prof. Merin related, and "I thoroughly enjoy meeting patients who come from Nablus, Jenin, and Gaza.
"If it depends on the people, there will be peace and living together without any problems," Prof. Merin reflected. "I do hope," he continued, "that the feeling of the people who want peace will prevail--I have no doubt about it-- and that will lead to a peaceful solution to the problems of two peoples living on one piece of land."
To hear more about the collaboration between St. John and Hadassah from the health professionals at St. John, click to http://www.stjohneyehospital.org/2012-documentary-trailer
The Hadassah Medical Center's Community Health Promotion Program for women aged 60 and above in the Gilo neighborhood of Jerusalem celebrated the graduation of 42 volunteer leaders in September.
The program, first piloted in the Gonenim neighborhood of Jerusalem, aims to empower older women to design healthy lifestyles for themselves and their families and, in turn, influence the health of their community. The program is a project of Hadassah's Patricia and Russell Fleischman Women's Health Center.
It was 12 years ago that the Center first piloted its concept of empowering women to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle by training volunteers from their community to educate them. These volunteers learn not only about women's health issues, but also how to build health promotion into the infrastructure of their neighborhoods; how to create a supportive social environment; and how to motivate women to take full advantage of the health services available to them. The first program was aimed at the women of Beit Shemesh; subsequently, the program was brought to Abu-Gosh, an Arab village in Western Jerusalem, where the Hadassah Center worked with the Abu-Gosh Municipality and the Ministry of Health to implement the program.
Activities to promote a healthy lifestyle are divided into subgroups--for example, community lectures, physical exercise, home visits, "brain games," and cooking workshops. Through this holistic, multi-layered education, the program aims to increase awareness about health issues that typically affect older women, the importance of periodic health examinations for early diagnosis of disease, and the value of a supportive social network.
Aligned with the 1947 World Health Organization definition of health as "physical, mental, and social welfare and not necessarily the absence of disease," the Hadassah program seeks to be culturally sensitive, always taking into account the unique cultural background of the individual women and how it may affect their health. "This is surely an unusual program," explains Tal Atzmon, Coordinator of the Patricia and Russell Fleischman Women's Health Center, "because it empowers older single women with a joyful independence and allows those who live alone to know that each day brings with it the promise of gainful activity."
Since the opening of the renovated and expanded Pediatrics Wing B at Hadassah Hospital-Mount Scopus in February 2011, more than 3,000 children, mirroring the diversity of Israel's population, have been hospitalized in the new state-of-the-art space.
The new wing includes a four-bed Pediatric Surgery Unit, where children can rest comfortably and be monitored carefully as they recuperate from their operations. Hadassah's Pediatric Surgical Team, headed by Prof. Raphael Udassin, treats patients from birth through age 18, often performing corrective surgery for congenital anomalies or removing childhood tumors. In addition, full-time consultants provide comprehensive expert services in urological, vascular, and plastic surgery.
As early as 1991, Hadassah's Pediatrics Department entered the field of minimally invasive surgery. Performing a variety of laparoscopic surgeries, Hadassah also developed a leading training program in the field. Recently, Dr. Vadim Kapular performed an innovative minimally invasive appendectomy; instead of following the traditionall protocol of making three incisions, he performed the surgery with only one, entering through the child's umbilicus (navel).
Watch the stories of four nurses, each born in different countries and from diverse backgrounds, who found their way and purpose in helping others through work at Hadassah Hospital.
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In a series of experiments, Dr. Ronen Beeri, Director of the Cardiovascular Research Center at the Hadassah Medical Center, and Dr. Robert Levine, Senior Physician at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, have demonstrated that mitral regurgitation augments the remodeling process occurring after a myocardial infraction which, in turn, exacerbates further heart failure.
Dr. Ronen Beer, Director Hadassah Cardiovascular Research Center
They have also discovered that repairing the mitral regurgitation early enough may reverse these deleterious processes, while delayed repair may not. The two physicians have now begun to explore the cellular processes which cause the individual cells to fail. In what may hold promise for the future, they have utilized gene therapy techniques in a sheep model of heart failure to implant a gene for the Sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca (+2)-ATPase ( SERCA2a), which controls a key process in the cell's calcium signaling. The sheep which underwent gene therapy had upregulated levels of SERCA2a, which led to better function and lesser remodeling. They exhibited improved contractility, smaller heart volumes, and activation of cellular pathways that lead to better heart compensation.
As members of an international consortium of leading scientists studying the heart’s mitral valve, Hadassah Medical Center cardiologists invited their colleagues to meet in Jerusalem for a first International Heart Valve Summit of the Israel Heart Society.
The consortium, under the aegis of the LeDucq Foundation, was founded by French Entrepreneur Jean LeDucq and his wife Sylviane, with the mission of bringing together international experts to combat cardiovascular and neurovascular disease.
Over 200 cardiologists and many cardiac paraprofessionals attended the meeting. The speakers included Dr. Hal Dietz from Baltimore’s John Hopkins Hospital, who discovered the manner in which the gene for Marfan Syndrome, a connective tissue disorder, leads to disease, resulting in a revolution in the treatment of the syndrome; Dr. Alain Carpentier, a pioneer in catheter-based aortic valve replacement, Adjunct Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, and Professor of Cardiovascular Surgery at Hopital Européen Georges Pompidou in Paris; and Dr. Robert Levine, Senior Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, who gave a presentation on the biology of the mitral leaflet (the flaps of the valve). Prof. Chaim Lotan, head of Hadassah’s Heart Institute, shared his work on the biological mechanisms that lead to valve calcification and dysfunction.
As a direct result of the meeting, Hadassah began a collaborative research project involving a Muslim Arab family whose members have a genetic form of early onset malignant valve calcification, which leads to early death. Prof. Lotan relates that “we plan in the very near future to clone the genetic mutation and, potentially, find a cure.”
Prof. Lotan adds: “By forging scientific alliances that transcend national borders and promoting the education of young researchers who thrive in an international context, we hope to be able to promote innovative research, an efficient use of research resources, and the development of long-term collaborative relationships that will allow us to continue to meet the challenges of cardiovascular disease in the future.”
The Hadassah University Medical Center has signed a cooperation agreement with the European Medical Center (EMC) of Moscow, facilitating the exchange of knowledge and experience between clinical specialists in the two medical institutions.
EMC, the leading European multi-profile clinic in Moscow, notes that collegiality is a key feature at Hadassah. Several of EMC’s physicians and other health professionals trained in Israel, including the heads of EMC’s radiology department and pathological histology laboratory, as well as an endoscopist, a cytologist, and a laboratory assistant.
The EMC Assistance sub-division, which specializes in arranging medical services for people abroad, offers patients treatment at Hadassah Hospital with follow-up and rehabilitation at the European Medical Center when they return to Russia.
Though over 95 percent of children are cured of retinoblastoma, a malignant tumor of the eye, the Hadassah University Medical Center’s specialists are focusing on the quality of life (QOL) issues that plague these young patients.
Among the problems the children face are loss of an eye or vision in the eye, as welll as second cancers. A national referral center for retinoblastoma, Hadassah, with its multidisciplinary team of an ophthalmologist, pediatric oncologist, social worker, and nurse, currently follows close to 200 children and adolescents with the disease.
In a recent study, Hadassah researchers assessed the quality of life for 46 children and adolescent survivors of retinoblastoma. While the results indicate that children who are survivors of retinoblastoma have an overall QOL that is similar to other children their age, the authors note that “subgroups of survivors appear to have unique difficulties that require continued follow-up and intervention.” The children’s parents, they found, rated their children’s general and emotional health as being lower than what would be expected of a normal child in their age range. In addition, the children reported lower QOL as related to school. Further, those children who suffered from bilateral retinoblastoma (a tumor in both eyes) participated less in daily activities and had a lower emotional quality of life, as compared to those who only were affected by the disease in one eye (unilateral retinoblastoma). When a child had his eye removed, he was likely to suffer from lower self-esteem. (See “Participation in Daily Activities and Quality of life in Survivors of Retinoblastoma” in the April 2011 issue of Pediatric Blood and Cancer.)
The next phase of the study will focus on adolescent survivors of retinoblastoma, particularly those who had an eye removed and now have a prosthesis, which has caused them major concerns about their appearance and social acceptance.
Further research will investigate the issue of body image and social acceptance in general among survivors of retinoblastoma. The aim, explains Dr. Michael Weintraub, Director of Hadassah’s Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Department, “is to assess the extent and severity of the problem and then design a specific intervention program for the adolescents that will be based on both individual and group support.”
Hadassah researchers also plan to look into the impact of monocular vision on the motor and functional development of infants and young children who are survivors of retinoblastoma. Preliminary data from the QOL study suggests that these children may have difficulties with motor coordination, affecting their ability to participate in age-appropriate sports and play. By the same token, they have problems performing daily activities that involve vision--for example, crossing the street safely—if they have lost part of their visual field. Without an eye, these children cannot see a car approaching from the side. Once they assess and characterize the loss of vision-related function, the Hadassah team plans to design an intervention program to address these difficulties.
A multidisciplinary team at the Hadassah Medical Center is testing the use of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) to alleviate depression in severely affected patients.
The Hadassah team includes physicians from Neurosurgery, Psychiatry, the Biological Psychiatry Laboratory, the Medical Neurobiology Department, and the Center for Functional and Restorative Surgery. The experimental procedure is part of an international clinical trial being conducted in several European countries and Israel. In order to be accepted into the study, patients must have already tried at least three different drug treatments as well as electro-convulsive therapy and failed to attain relief.
The treatment involves the insertion of two electrodes into symmetrical areas of the brain, known to affect mood regulation. “There is evidence of increased activity in these areas among the severely depressed,” explains Prof. Benjamin Lerer, head of the Biological Psychiatry Laboratory. The electric current, he relates, reduces that activity and gradually affects the patient’s mood.
The electrodes, in turn, are connected to filaments that are implanted under the scalp, reaching to the chest wall where the operating unit—a computer and a battery—are implanted. Dr. Zvi Israel, Director of the Center for Functional and Restorative Surgery, reports that they have found that “treating the severely depressed with DBS has a 70 percent success rate.”."
DBS has been used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder since 2009 and Parkinson’s severe tremors since 2002.
With a world-first placental stem-cell (PLX) treatment, developed by Pluristem, doctors at the Hadassah University Medical Center have saved the life of a third patient suffering from bone marrow disease.
"Following three successful treatments, which were conducted for the first time in the world at the Hadassah Medical Center,” relates Prof. Reuven Or, Director of Hadassah’s Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cancer Immunology Department, “we can say that PLX cells from the placenta saved the life of patients suffering from bone marrow failure. We are very encouraged by the results and hope that future clinical trials will show the effectiveness of the PLX cells. I believe that the PLX treatment holds huge hope for patients who suffer from different conditions of bone marrow failure and, once approved, will be available for every patient who needs it.”
This most recent patient, a 45-year-old man who has acute myeloid leukemia, a form of blood cancer, had undergone chemotherapy and an unrelated bone marrow transplant, but still suffered from a life-threatening shortage of white blood cells. After receiving two intramuscular injections of the placental stem cells, one week apart, his clinical condition and overall well being improved significantly enough for him to be released from the hospital.In addition to helping the three patients, Pluristem Chief Executive Officer Zami Aberman notes, the data suggests that the PLX cells may be helpful in rescuing both bone marrow transplant failures that were allogeneic (genetically different) as well as autologous (from the patient’s own cells).
Thanks to on-going treatment provided by Prof. Eitan Kerem, head of Pediatrics and the Cystic Fibrosis Center at the Hadassah Medical Center, Shefa Shukrun, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, was able to celebrate her Bat Mitzvah in Jerusalem this summer.
Both Shefa and her 10-year-old brother, Yam, suffer from this life-threatening genetic lung disorder. They had been living in New Zealand but the family moved to Israel in 2007 to put the children under Prof. Kerem’s care. Both children get to school quite regularly now and participate in extra-curricular activities. Shefa is a member of the local gymnastics team and her younger brother plays the drums and keyboard.
For the Shukrun family of Moshav Yinon, August began with one daughter competing in the summer Olympic Games. It draws to a close with a second daughter celebrating the bat mitzvah many feared she would not live to achieve. In gratitude, the family asked Prof. Kerem to deliver opening blessings at the bat mitzvah.
"You can say that we've been through the entire spectrum,” Shuki Shukrun, their father, relates--“the victory of basic survival and the victory of reaching the skies." Mr. Shukrun’s other daughter, Jo Aleh, won a gold medal for New Zealand, sailing in the women's 470 regatta.
Read the story in Haaretz here
Finding himself in the Ophthalmology Department at Hadassah Hospital-Ein Kerem with an eye problem needing urgent care, Founder of the French Institute of International Affairs Dominique Moisi witnessed “the most comforting and hopeful signs that I have encountered in the entire region in many years.”
During his seven-hour stay at Hadassah, Mr. Moisi was touched by the senior Israelis citizens playing with young Palestinian children, the Palestinian doctors and nurses treating Jewish and Arab patients, and the Israeli doctors and nurses attending to the needs of Arab patients. “It was as if the ill were behaving in a healthy way,” he says, “whereas, outside of the hospital, the healthy were behaving pathologically.”
The author of The Geopolitics of Emotion: How Cultures of Fear, Humiliation, and Hope are Reshaping the World, Mr. Moisi shared his sentiments in Project Syndicate, an on-line publication that features “original, engaging, and thought-provoking commentaries by esteemed leaders and thinkers from around the world.”
Read the article at Project-Syndicate.org.
Described by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat as “one of the most important buildings in the city,” the Hadassah Medical Center’s Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower is the child of many--from donors to designers, dreamers to doers.
Take a trip “back stage,” and learn about the Tower’s beginnings, the highlights of its physical structure, its spiritual innovations, and how it is enhancing each patient’s experience and the productivity of Hadassah’s health professionals.
Find out about the strategic partnerships, sensitivity, and caring philosophy that guided the entire building process, which yielded Hadassah’s latest legacy to the people of Jerusalem, by reading Wendy Elliman’s article in Hadassah Magazine.
Rasheda Ali, daughter of the legendary boxer, Muhammad Ali and member of the advisory board of BrainStorm, the Israeli company that works on innovative treatments for Parkinson's and Multiple Sclerosis with Hadassah Senior Neurologist Prof. Dimitrios Karussis, will now focus her efforts on behalf of the BrainStorm/Hadassah methodology.
Ms. Ali visited the Hadassah Medical Center this summer with the managers of BrainStorm, where she met with Prof. Dimitrios Karussis, Director of Hadassah's Multiple Sclerosis Center, and Prof. Tamir Ben-Hur, head of Neurology.
The two professors described their work involving the autologous transplant of mesenchymal stem cells to treat degenerative brain diseases. They explained the importance of collaborating with the bio-tech industry—BrainStorm specifically—and what their next steps will be. Ms. Ali, an internationally known advocate for research into degenerative brain diseases, has personal experience with this debilitating decline of brain function, since her father, Muhammad, suffers from Parkinson's.
During her visit to Hadassah, Chaim Lebovitz, President of BrainStorm, and Adrian Harel, Chief Executive Officer, took Ms. Ali to see Hadassah's GMP (Good Manufacturing Product) research laboratory, where the collaborative work of BrainStorm and Hadassah is performed. Highly impressed with what she witnessed, Ms. Ali was glad to be able to meet the physicians behind the names she had come to know.
Cell Cure Neurosciences Ltd., whose Chief Scientific Officer is Hadassah University Medical Center's Prof. Benjamin Reubinoff--Director of the its Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Center--received a 1.3 million-dollar grant from Israel's Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) to help finance its development of a treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Cell Cure, established in 2005, manufactures diverse cell products, sourced from clinical-grade human embryonic stem cells. Its current programs include developing cells for the treatment of macular degeneration, Parkinson's disease, and cells potentially useful in treating multiple sclerosis. Cell Cure's plan for its cell-based product, OpRegen(R) includes filing an application to commence human clinical trials in 2013.
"We wish to thank the Office of the Chief Scientist for their participation in advancing this important new application of regenerative medicine," said Charles Irving, Chief Executive of Cell Cure. "We anticipate that OpRegen(R) will make a real difference in the quality of life of the aging population in many industrialized countries," he noted, "and hence it is a strategic investment for not only Israel, but the world as a whole."
AMD is a severe form of acute vision loss and the leading cause of blindness in older people. It affects that part of the retina which is most critical in everyday tasks, such as reading and recognizing faces. "I join with Dr. Irving in thanking OCS for its generous support in accelerating these advances in stem cell biology into the clinic," said Prof. Reubinoff.
A woman with terminal bone marrow failure was saved at the Hadassah Medical Center with placental stem cell therapy, marking the second successful treatment of a patient with this life-threatening medical condition in three months.
This most recent case involved a woman who had lymphoma and failed to respond to both chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants. When Pluristem Therapeutics' PLX cells were injected intramuscularly, her clinical condition and blood count improved---so much so that she has been released from the hospital.
Before the woman received the PLX cells, her red and white blood cell counts were low and she was highly susceptible to infections. "This is a real breakthrough," said Prof. Reuven Or, Director of Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cancer Immunology at Hadassah. When the autologous bone marrow transplants engrafted poorly, he related, "as a last resort," they applied to treat her with PLX cells under the "compassionate use protocol." The treatment with PLX, he reports, "has saved her life and can certainly be classified as a medical miracle."
Noting that Vitamin D deficiency is "highly prevalent" in patients with heart failure (HF) and "a significant predictor of reduced survival," Hadassah Medical Center physicians determined that Vitamin D supplementation was associated with improved outcome.
The researchers reported their findings in the April 2012 issue of The European Journal of Heart Failure, the international journal of the European Society of Cardiology, dedicated to the advancement of knowledge in the field of heart failure.
Vitamin D deficiency was found in 28 percent of the HF patients, as compared to 22 percent in the control group. Only 8.8% of the HF patients, they found, had optimal levels of Vitamin D. Those HF patients who received Vitamin D supplementation, however, were 32 percent less likely to die from the disease.
Read more on Foodconsumer.org here>>
Prof. Dina Ben Yehuda, head of the Hadassah University Medical Center's Division of Hematology, has received one of the three awards to outstanding physicians presented by the Society for Medicine and Law in Israel. The award is given based on patients' recommendations. "Prof. Ben Yehuda," the award committee noted, "has vast experience in hematology, and is involved deeply in clinical as well as research work. Recently she was recognized as an outstanding teacher by the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Medicine. Prof. Ben-Yehuda excels in creative thinking and tailor making treatments to patients just like a suit. Her patients say that the value of saving life is deeply rooted inside her personality, and she is a symbol of diligence and thoroughness, compassion and devotion."
This is the second year in a row that a Hadassah physician received this prestigious award. Last year's recipient was Prof. Neri Laufer, then head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Sari Cohen, Senior Orthopedic Operating Room Nurse, was the first Israeli nurse to give a presentation at the annual conference of AOTrauma, the world's leading orthopedic trauma association. AO's mission is to "improve the treatment of patients with trauma and disorders of the musculo-skeletal system through research, development, clinical investigation, and education." Ms. Cohen was also elected as a member of the AOTrauma's European Regional Committee for Operating Room Practices.
Dr. Chamutal Gur of Hadassah's Internal Medicine Department received the Hebrew University's Kaye Innovation Award for a researcher. Dr. Gur, a Ph.D candidate at the Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Medicine, is studying the role of natural killer cells in autoimmune diseases. Her main project focuses on the function of the NKp46 killer receptor in Type 1 diabetes mellitus.
Prof. Jacob Pe'er, head of Hadassah's Ophthalmology Department, received the Michaelson Award from the Macula Society during the 35th annual conference of the international association, a forum for new research in retinal vascular and macular diseases.
Hadassah-Hebrew University medical students simulated a terror attack on Jerusalem's new light rail as their final test at the completion of a 10-day trauma course.
The drill was arranged by Prof. Avi Rivkind, Chief of General Surgery and head of the Trauma Unit at the Hadassah University Medical Center. During the simulation, medical students acted as doctors, victims, supervisors, photographers, and press spokesmen. Some students, acting as the wounded, positioned themselves behind fences in the bushes, as if the terror blast had thrown them there. Others lay down motionless in the street, attempting to recreate an authentic mass casualty event. The goal was for novice medical staffers to receive training and for veterans to learn new ways to improve their performance. Read the entire story by Judy Siegel inThe Jerusalem Post.
Initiated by Hadassah Australia, the collaboration between Prof. Tali Siegal, Director of the Hadassah Medical Center's Gaffin Neuro-oncology Center, and Prof. Andrew Kaye, head of Neurosurgery at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Australia, has turned out to be a winning alliance for brain cancer monitoring and targeted treatment.
With some forms of cancer, doctors can monitor the progress of treatment more easily and switch to different drugs to stay ahead of the disease; brain cancer, however, provides a particular challenge. It is difficult to monitor what is going on inside the skull and to determine precisely what an MRI scan is indicating. For example, once a patient is operated on to remove a malignant brain tumor and then receives radiation treatment and chemotherapy, a follow-up MRI may show swelling. The challenge is knowing whether this is due to a regrowth of the tumor or merely inflammation. For years, Prof. Kaye had been frustrated over this dilemma. What he needed was concrete evidence in the person's blood as to whether the cancer had returned.
In April 2009, Prof. Kaye joined a Hadassah Australia mission that brought Australian researchers together with their colleagues at Hadassah in Jerusalem. It was then that he met Prof. Siegal, who described how brain cancer cells shed DNA into the blood. She explained that in her laboratory, researchers were trying to use that DNA as a marker for brain cancer. Prof. Kaye had been thinking about where to go for his next sabbatical; it was clear that he wanted to be at Hadassah.
Since his first three-month stint in 2010, Prof. Kaye has been coming to Jerusalem for six weeks every year; in between, he keeps in touch with Prof. Siegal through Skype. "I need to see the whites of their eyes; the cross-fertilization is terrific," notes Prof. Kaye.
Besides exchanging ideas, the two colleagues are combining samples from patients at their respective hospitals to find out whether blood-born DNA can track the progress of brain cancer in a clinical setting. Over the last two years, they have recruited 200 patients with newly diagnosed brain cancer. They have also collected hundreds of brain tissue and blood samples at various stages of the patients' treatment.
At Hadassah, Dr. Siegal's team is refining the technique, measuring the quantity of blood-born tumor DNA to see if it corresponds with the growth of the tumor. They are also testing the quality of the DNA by checking for mutations on 10 different genes. The idea is for the DNA of the tumor cells to provide precise details about the individual patient's brain cancer. As in any warfare, eliminating an enemy is only as good as the ability to target it. With a range of drugs and treatments on the oncologist's shelf, the goal is to target the right treatment to the specific cancer.
Prof. Kaye imagines that, thanks to the Hadassah/Royal collaboration, this will be possible three to four years down the line. If he knows the specific tumor's DNA, he has hope that his surgical strike, backed by precisely targeted chemical warfare, will eventually win him the battle against cancer.
(For more information about the medical research and the beginning of this joint initiative, see the September 2009 issue of the Hadassah International ebulletin and the 2009 article by Elizabeth Finkel.)
Peter Hudson, Australian football icon, visited Hadassah Hospital Ein-Kerem in July and spent some time with Dr. Yigal Shoshan, head of Neurosurgery at Hadassah.
Mr. Hudson and his wife, Stephanie, were guests of Prof. Andrew Kaye, head of the Department of Neurosurgery at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Australia, who regularly spends a few weeks at Hadassah working with his neurosurgery colleagues, as part of a collaboration begun in 2009.
The collaboration, which is pioneering a blood-based test for detecting, monitoring, and treating brain cancer, is an outgrowth of AUSiMED, the bilateral research venture initiated by Hadassah Australia. (See the September 2009 issue of the Hadassah International ebulletin for more information about the beginnings of this joint venture.)
The Bordet Institute of the Free University of Brussels, Belgium and the Hadassah University Medical Center have signed an agreement of cooperation to advance cancer research.
The new alliance is a natural outgrowth of the professional relationship that Prof. Maurice Sosnowski, head of the Department of Anesthesiology at Bordet and President of the Coordination Committee of the Jewish Organizations of Belgium, has had with Hadassah over the last 30 years. In January, a delegation from Hadassah Belgium, composed of eight professors of medicine, traveled to Israel to launch this twinning initiative, which begins with a focus on breast cancer and hematology.
The agreement was signed on June 19th in the presence of Free University of Brussels Rector Didier Viviers and Health Minister Laurette Onkelinx. In addition to joint research programs, the cooperative venture will spearhead symposia that provide an opportunity for the medical staff of both hospitals to share information and expertise. Bordet is the only autonomous hospital in Belgium that is totally dedicated to cancer screening, treatment, and research.
"Today, we possess only one technique of genetic analysis, which is both costly and lengthy, in order to determine whether a cancer is hereditary," relates Dr. Daphné t'Kint, a clinical oncologist at Bordet. "Hadassah," she says, "has developed state-of-the-art technology that is simple and less costly, using a blood sample. If we can determine whether the patient's cancer is hereditary, this information could alter the care and treatment prescribed to the patient. This cooperation agreement will allow us to make significant progress."
Bordet Institute President Robert Tollet notes: "Whenever an opportunity to make scientific progress arises in areas as crucial as oncology, it would be a crime not to benefit from the potential know-how at our disposal through a partnership between Belgian and Israeli research centers."
A Kenyan physician, the son of subsistence farmers from one of the poorest districts near the border of Tanzania, achieved his dream of becoming an interventional radiologist through a fellowship at the Hadassah University Medical Center.
Dr. Peter Magabe is one of two interventional radiologists in East Africa for a population of over 100 million people. He began his medical career working for three years in the country’s periphery, in a mission hospital, where he first trained to be a surgeon. He was frustrated, however, by the lack of tools to stop internal bleeding. He knew that in the West, interventional radiology would resolve the crises he regularly encountered and was determined to bring this technology to his people.
When Prof. Chaim Lotan, Director of the Hadassah University Medical Center's Heart Institute, met Souad Mekhennet, a reporter for The New York Times, who was in Jerusalem to cover an international event, he invited her to visit Hadassah.
When she met with Ron Krumer, Director of External Affairs for Hadassah, she explained that her role as a columnist for the international edition of the Times was to write about Moslem women. Mr. Krumer arranged for her to speak with several Palestinian women who work at Hadassah.
In her article, Ms. Mekhennet explains that "in some cases, Muslim nurses treat Israeli soldiers wounded in fights with Palestinians while their Jewish colleagues also attend to Palestinians who attacked Jews."
One of the Palestinian interviewees, Ashgan, comments: "This is a learning process for all of us, but we treat first the patient, and then maybe later we hear what the story was."
Ms. Mekhennet concludes the article with the following paragraph: "Indeed, all four women noted that their contact was possible only because the hospital's leadership made it so clear that there was to be no discrimination among patients or staff. 'As long as we keep politics out of it,' said Ashgan, "all is good."
A new treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) based on stem cell technology and now in clinical trials at the Hadassah University Medical Center, appears to have cured an Orthodox Rabbi in Israel who was diagnosed with the disease two years ago.
The Rabbi may be the first known patient cured of ALS. If the drug proves to be a viable treatment for ALS, the results would be game changing, and would help people afflicted with ALS across the world. "There is no doubt that a great drama is taking place here," said a Hadassah doctor.
Read the full story in The Algemeiner here.
For the first time in Israel, doctors at the Hadassah University Medical Center are employing endoscopic intervention to correct fistula (abnormal connections of the esophagus and trachea) in babies, avoiding the risky conventional surgical option.
Normally, the esophagus and the trachea are two separate, unconnected tubes. About one in every 4,000 children, however, is born with an abnormality where the esophagus is blocked at the top and at the bottom. In most cases, the esophagus is connected to the trachea. When a baby with this condition swallows, liquid can pass through the abnormal connection between the esophagus and the trachea and get into the baby's lungs and cause pneumonia.
During surgery, the abnormal connection is removed and the esophagus is reconnected at both ends. In five to ten percent of cases, however, the fistula returns, causing difficulty breathing, choking during meals, and recurrent lung infections. When this occurs, additional surgery is necessary. Each surgical intervention results in scars that can often be life threatening.
With the new treatment, the fistula is sealed by endoscopy. Prof. Chaim Springer, head of Hadassah's Pediatric Pulmonology Unit, and pediatric pulmonologists Prof. Avraham Avital and Dr. Shlomo Cohen have already performed the new procedure on eight children, successfully treating the fistula for six of them.
Thanks to the ingenuity of a Hadassah University Medical Center nurse, child victims of sexual abuse are being put at ease with therapeutic dolls, so they are more apt to allow clinical examination, which can provide officials with evidence against their attackers.
Many times these children will not cooperate with an examination because its invasiveness brings back memories of the abusive experience. With proper examination, however, DNA samples from the attacker's semen or skin cells can be collected not only to bring the guilty party to justice, but also to verify that the attacker did not transmit any sexually transmitted diseases to the child.
Dr. Rachel Yaffa Zisk Rony, Forensic Nurse at Hadassah's Bat Ami Center for Victims of Sexual Assault, explains how she came to develop the therapeutic doll program. About 18 months ago, she came across a two-and-half-year-old girl who had been attacked by her nanny's husband. "She didn't let us touch her," Dr. Zisk Rony recalls, "let alone take any sample from her. As a result, the police didn't have any evidence against the suspect. I had to find a solution, and after searching the professional literature, I developed this method with the dolls."
When a child who has been abused arrives at the Bat Ami Center, he or she chooses a doll and gives it a name. The nurse or social worker also takes a doll and gives it a name. Then the staff member performs a series of tests on the doll, while asking the child to describe what she is doing. By the end of this process, the doll becomes the child's friend. Next, the nurse suggests that the child perform the tests on the doll.
The steps of the process are tailored to each child's personality and background. For example, if the child is Orthodox, the staff will not choose an unfitting modern name. They will also find out the names of the child's siblings and avoid giving the doll one of those names. Depending on the child's reactions, comfort level, and personality, it is determined if and when it may be appropriate to ask the child's permission to examine her. Since this initiative began, the number of children who refused to be examined has decreased dramatically.
Researchers at the Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem have produced, for the first time, under Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) conditions, lines of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) for transplantation that are free of animal components.
As the researchers explain: "Most of the reported hESC lines worldwide are not ideal for use in clinical trials. They were developed without adherence to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), using animal-derived research-grade reagents, which may infect the cells with animal pathogens. Moreover, many cell lines were derived and cultured on animal feeder cells, which may contaminate the hESCs by nonhuman sialic acid Neu5Gc molecules, which can elicit immune rejection after transplantation."
Human embryonic stem cells can differentiate and mature into any cell type in the human body. This gives them the potential to serve as an infinite source of cells for transplantation to mitigate degenerative diseases such as diabetes, heart failure, and Parkinson's.
The new stem cell lines were produced from six-day-old embryos donated by couples who had completed their in vitro fertilization treatments. After reviewing the ethical procedures involved in the embryo donation and the production of the stem cells, both Israel's Ministry of Health and the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) found them appropriate and granted ethical approval. The NIH approval allows researchers in the United States to use these new cell lines in studies funded by the federal government.
Prof. Benjamin Reubinoff, Director of the Sidney and Judy Swartz Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Center, headed the study, which is highlighted in the June 20, 2012 issue of PLoS ONE, an international, peer-reviewed, open-access, online publication of the Public Library of Science. The cell lines have already been provided to two Israeli companies: Cell Cure Neurosciences Ltd.--to develop transplantation treatment for Age-Related Macular Degeneration--and Kadimastem Ltd. for diabetes. Hadasit, Hadassah's technology transfer company, commercialized the new technology by awarding licenses to the two companies and is overseeing the translational process.
The study was partially conducted by the Bereshit Consortium, a group of companies and academic institutions funded by Israel's Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor to advance the development of stem cell transplantations.
With cord blood stem cells preserved at the Hadassah University Medical Center, an Israeli baby with a brain injury received a transplant at Duke University Medical Center, North Carolina, and was able to walk with a walker and wave her hand which had been previously paralyzed.
Dana, the child's mother, had delivered the baby at Hadassah a year and a half before and had decided to preserve her cord blood, just in case they would ever need it.
When the baby's grandfather noticed that the baby had a motor problem in her left hand and left leg, the family began doing some research on the internet. They came across a You Tube video which described a revolutionary treatment for regenerating brain function that was pioneered at Duke.
Approval was granted. Hadassah sent the preserved cord blood to the US.
Dr. Simcha Samuel, Director of Hadassah's Bone Marrow Transplantation Laboratory, accompanied the family to the US for the procedure. It was within weeks following the transplant that the little girl started to walk and to wave her previously paralyzed hand.
While on a cruise on the Mediterranean Sea, Patrick Griffin from Nebraska became ill with a gastroenterology problem. When it was ultimately determined he needed surgery, Mr. Griffin's sister connected him to an air ambulance company in Tel Aviv which, in turn, referred him to the Hadassah University Medical Center's Prof. David Linton, Director of Intensive Care Medicine, who is also a pilot.
The persistence of the organ transplant coordinator at the Hadassah University Medical Center in reaching a patient who had been waiting for five years for a kidney ensured that he received one—after the police located him in synagogue, attending Shabbat morning services.
Nurse Olga Stein left several messages for Robert Iltov--both at home and on his cell phone--about the availability of a kidney. When he did not return her calls, she called the police and arranged for a search. Procedure in Israel dictates that if the hospital cannot report within one hour that the candidate has been located and is waiting in the hospital, the organ becomes available to the next person on the waiting list.
Escorted by a police car, traveling by ambulance, Mr. Iltov arrived at Hadassah, where a successful transplant surgery was performed. "Last Friday I dreamt that they found a kidney for me," Mr. Iltov reported. "I just celebrated my 45th birthday and there could not be a better birthday present."
A study team led by Dr. Carolyn F. Weiniger, an obstetrical anesthesiologist at the Hadassah University Medical Center, has developed a new model for identifying placenta accreta, the abnormal implantation of the placenta into the uterine wall.
The team reviewed data from 46,623 women who had their babies at Hadassah over a nine-year period. The predictive model they created is based on three clinical factors, which would be assessed if a woman was suspected of having a possible placenta accreta:
• the presence of placenta previa
At a "maximal-sensitivity cut-off," the model identified 100 percent of the women who had been confirmed to have the condition.
The data derived from this model may spare some women unnecessary interventions, such as general anesthesia, placement of large-bore intravenous lines, and elective hysterectomy.
Dr. Weiniger presented her model at the annual meeting of the Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology. Read the entire article in Ob. Gyn. News.
In an article recently published in the World Journal of Surgery, Hadassah University Medical Center trauma specialists shared their finding: introducing an intensified, high-level supervision approach to trauma care decreases the percent of fatalities.
The article entitled Trauma Care and Case Fatality during a Period of Frequent, Violent Terror Attacks and Thereafter, brought out that in Hadassah Hospital's Shock Trauma Unit (HHSTU), close supervision by senior staff of pre-hospital triage, transport, and all surgical procedures, as well as longer hospital stays led to increased survival. Emphasis was on the on-site presence, hands-on close supervision, and direct involvement in case management by senior attending trauma surgeons in all specialties, such as orthopedics, neurosurgery, and anesthesiology.
"Furthermore," the authors relate, "in almost every trauma case, and consistently in mass casualty situations, the head of the Department of General Surgery is present to provide advanced knowledge, experience at the hands-on level, and supervision to each trauma patient to optimize the level of care and to minimize errors in diagnosis and management."
Hadassah's protocols were derived from the models of care developed at the Maryland Institute of Emergency Medical Services System (MIEMSS), where senior surgeons play a pivotal role in trauma care and disaster management through their constant direct supervision.
Case Fatality rates (CFRs) were tracked in 8,127 patients. The results over a five-year span (1999-2003) revealed CFRs of 2.62 percent—less than half that in 51 Level 1 United States trauma centers. As the decade progressed, the percent continued to decline so that by 2010, the CFRs were 1.9 percent. The Hadassah team, headed by Prof. Avraham Rivkind, head of the Trauma Unit, explains that previous data had shown large differences in CFRs in trauma centers that had similar resources.
Therefore, it highlighted the importance of replicating structures and processes of those centers with superior survival results. "Despite the oft-mentioned increased financial burden of increased length of hospitalization," the authors conclude, "extended in-hospital care of trauma victims improved the outcome of trauma patients admitted to our ICU (Intensive Care Unit), and its value should be taken into consideration for seriously injured cases." The article was published online in the May 17, 2012 edition of World Journal of Surgery.
A long-standing collaboration between the Hadassah University Medical Center and the Belfast (Ireland) City Hospital Trust Cardiac Anesthesia Department, which began with guest lectures in Israel and Ireland, has led to a joint research project using a ventilator invented in Israel.
Reciprocating, Dr. William Thomas, consultant in the Belfast Trust Cardiac Anesthesia Department, gave a lecture at Hadassah about renal failure and the research conducted in his department on the subject.
The Belfast City Hospital Trust is a 900-bed modern university teaching hospital providing local acute services and key regional specialties, including renal medicine as well as a comprehensive range of cancer services.
The discovery of a mummified Korean child with relatively preserved organs enabled an Israeli-South Korean scientific team to conduct genetic analysis which revealed a hepatitis B virus that is common in Southeast Asia. The research team is comprised of scientists from the Hadassah University Medical Center's Liver Unit; the Hebrew University's Faculty of Medicine, Koret School of Veterinary Medicine, and the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment; and Dankook University and Seoul National University in South Korea.
The findings, reported in the May 21, 2012 edition of Hepatology, are the result of a collaborative effort among Dr. Gila Kahila Bar-Gal of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Koret School of Veterinary Medicine; Prof. Daniel Shouval, Director of the Liver Unit at Hadassah Hospital-Ein Kerem; Dr. Myeung Ju Kim of Dankook University, Seok Ju Seon Memorial Museum; Dr. Dong Hoon Shin of Seoul National University College of Medicine; Prof Mark Spigelman of the Hebrew University's Dept. of Parasitology; and Dr. Paul R. Grant of University College of London's Dept. of Virology.
According to the World Health Organization, there are over 400 million carriers of the virus worldwide, predominantly in Africa, China, and South Korea, where up to 15 percent of the people are carriers. In recent years, universal immunization of newborns against hepatitis B in Israel and South Korea has led to a massive decline in the incidence of infection.
The Israeli Ministry of Health has announced that genetic chip testing--the most advanced method to identify chromosomal abnormalities in the amniotic fluid of pregnant women--will be included in the health services covered by the State.
Up until now, women have had to pay over 800 dollars for this testing. Hadassah University Medical Center is the only hospital in Israel that routinely uses genetic chip testing and has performed over 1,800 tests during the past three years. The traditional method of testing--the Karyotype test--can only identify a segment of known abnormalities and takes 21 days to provide results. "The genetic chip 'sees' 100 times more than the other test," relates Prof. Orly Elpeleg, head of the Department of Genetics and Metabolic Diseases and the Monique and Jacques Roboh Department of Genetic Research at Hadassah. In addition, it provides results within four days.
When four-and-a-half-year-old Zrichko Vladislav was diagnosed with osteopetrosis--a condition where the bones become overly dense and cause damage to nerves and tissues--his feet had already started to bend and he could hardly walk. A bone marrow transplant at the Hadassah University Medical Center saved his life.
When Zrichko's parents searched the internet and learned that a bone marrow transplant was a possible treatment, they began to explore opportunities within the Ukraine and neighboring Russia and then in other countries. For one reason or another, there were no viable options—until they explored Israel and Hadassah. Now, Zrichko's successful bone marrow transplant is behind him and his Hadassah doctors are closely monitoring his recovery.
"Until now we had to hold him on our hands all the time," says Lena, Zrichko's mother. "He could not go to the kindergarten because his immune system was too weak. His contacts with other children were limited to family relatives. We were afraid that he would be infected."
"We transfused Zrichko's entire blood with that of his donor's, and did the same thing with his immune system," says Dr. Paulina Stefansky, a senior physician in Hadassah's Department of Pediatric Hemato-Oncology, who is in charge of pediatric transplantations. Now Zrichko will receive rehabilitation treatment as his "new" immune system gains strength. While he will still have some bone-related problems--with his teeth, for example--he can look forward to a normal life.
For her research on a new treatment for Type 1 diabetes, a Hadassah University Medical Center physician has received the Kaye Innovation Award from the Hebrew University. The treatment is now undergoing commercial development.
Dr. Chamutal Gur, a senior physician in Hadassah's Internal Medicine Department, as well as a Ph.D. student under the supervision of Prof. Ofer Mandelboim of the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada at the Hebrew University Faculty of Medicine, won the award for her research on the role of Natural Killer cells in autoimmune diseases. Her main project focuses on the function of the NKp46 killer receptor in Type 1 diabetes (T1D).
In people with T1D, autoreactive T cells attack the pancreatic beta cells, which produce natural insulin in the body. Natural Killer (NK) cells, which are part of our innate immune system, kill hazardous cells by using an array of cell receptors. One of the most potent is the NKp46 and Dr. Gur found that it specifically recognizes pancreatic beta cells, which leads to it destroying them.
Dr. Gur, in collaboration with other researchers at Hadassah and Ben-Gurion University, identified this phenomenon in both animal and human cell tests, demonstrating the importance of the NKp46 receptor in the development of diabetes. Concurrently, the research highlights the therapeutic potential of an anti-NKp46 monoclonal antibody (mAb) as a new treatment for T1D. Monoclonal cells are produced from a single ancestral cell by repeated cellular replication and, therefore, can be said to form a single "clone."
Based on the results, a patent was filed through the Hebrew University's Yissum Technology Transfer Company; Hadasit, the commercial arm of Hadassah; and BGN Technologies, the technology transfer company of Ben-Gurion University. The technology was licensed to BioLineRx to develop a blocking anti-NKp46 mAb for the treatment of T1D.
On June 1, Dr. Osnat Levtzion-Korach M.D, M.H.A., will assume the position of Director of the Hadassah University Hospital-Mt. Scopus, succeeding Prof. Zvi Stern, who completed eleven years as Director of the hospital. Prof. Stern was recently appointed President of the Jerusalem Academic College of Engineering.
Dr. Osnat Levtzion-Korach is a graduate of the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Medicine and completed residencies in both Pediatrics and Hospital Management at the Hadassah Medical Center, acquiring board certification in both fields.
After receiving a Masters degree in Health Administration from Tel Aviv University, she worked at the Center of Excellence for Patient Safety Clinical Research and Practice at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston MA. During her three years in Boston, she also served as a senior consultant at Boston University’s Program of Management and Variability in Healthcare Delivery and later at Patient Flow Technology, a leader in health care performance improvement, assisting hospitals throughout the United States on optimizing the flow of the patients and the usage of resources.
Upon her return to Israel, Dr. Levtzion-Korach was named Deputy Director of Assaf Harofeh Medical Center, where she continued to put into practice her expertise in patient safety, quality of care and improvement of processes. She has authored or co-authored a dozen research studies that have been published in prestigious medical journals and continues to pursue her research interests.
“I am proud to return to Hadassah and join the management team of this, the leading medical institution in Israel and the region,” says Dr. Levtzion-Korach. “I intend to focus on implementing the latest advances in patient safety practices, patient-centered care, risk management and quality assurance to serve the needs all the people who come to this 350-bed community hospital every year.”
Born in Jerusalem, Dr. Levtzion-Korach is married to Dr. Amit Korach, a senior physician in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Hadassah Ein-Kerem, and the mother of four sons.
Hadassah University Medical Center researchers have discovered that a special compound called BKT140 shrank lung cell tumors by about 50 percent in cell samples and laboratory mice. When BKT140 was combined with radiation therapy and chemotherapy, cancer cell growth decreased by about 90 percent in lab samples!
The multidisciplinary study was conducted by Dr. Ori Wald, a physician-researcher in Hadassah’s Cardiothoracic Surgery Department, with Department Head Prof. Oz Shapira; Dr. Uzi Izhar, Director of the Thoracic Surgery Unit; and Prof Amnon Peled, Principal Investigator, Hadassah’s Goldyne Savad Institute of Gene Therapy.
Dr. Peter Vernon Van Heerden, an Australian intensive care specialist with Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Perth, and a professor at the University of Western Australia, will shortly be moving to Israel and joining the medical staff of the Hadassah University Medical Center.
"I became a zionist the very first time I visited Israel, during my fifth year student elective in 1981," relates Dr. Van Heerden. "As happens with all of us," he explains, "I then spent a busy 30 years pursuing my career as an anesthetist and intensive care specialist in South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Australia and having a family (Dan--24, Adam--23, and Liron--17). It's only now that the dust has settled--my children are more independent--and I've achieved most of what I want career-wise in Australia, that I can pursue the dream of aliyah that has been with me all this time."
Dr. Van Heerden, who additionally has a deep interest in research and holds a Master's degree and a PhD as well as his medical degree, has also been awarded an academic appointment at the Hebrew University.
Having received his undergraduate training in South Africa, Dr. Van Heerden took specialist training in South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Australia. At present, he also practices anesthesiology at St. John of God Hospitals in Australia. In the beginning of July, Dr. Van Heerden will become a senior physician at Hadassah, working as an intensive care specialist with Prof. David Linton, Director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit. He will be joining Dr. Sigal Sviri and Dr. Abed Abbaye, helping them to prepare for the move to the new Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower and the expansion of the unit from 9 to 16 beds.
No stranger to Hadassah, Dr. Van Heerden worked at the hospital during his sabbaticals in 2007 and 2010. "My wife, Fiona," Dr. Van Heerden adds, "is also now ready to make the move and a happy wife makes for a happy home and a happy aliyah."
Our physicians are "hands-on, world-renowned professionals who work with patients, and when they do their R & D (research and development), they are much more focused to create solutions for the problems they encounter on a daily basis," Chief Executive Officer Ophir Shahaf of Hadasit Bio-Holdings, the technology transfer financing arm of the Hadassah University Medical Center, told BioTuesdays.com in an April 17 interview.
"While the ownership of hospitals in Israel is often shared by municipalities, the Ministry of Health, and private institutions," Mr. Shahaf explained, "Hadassah Hospital is privately owned by the Hadassah Women's Zionist Organization of America." Expanding on his explanation, Mr. Shahaf noted that "The 100-year-old group established two university hospitals--one on Mount Scopus in 1939 and another at Ein Kerem in 1961, which now boasts a medical and biotech campus of 28 buildings. The Hadassah Medical Center is now the country's third largest hospital group in terms of beds. It also accounts for 52% of applied biotech research in Israel, generating over 50 new patent families a year."
With 80 percent of childhood cancer victims cured of the disease today, the need to address the complex issues that the young survivors face in the aftermath of treatment led the Hadassah University Medical Center to establish a Childhood Cancer Survivor Clinic.
Under the directorship of Dr. Michael Weintraub, head of the Department of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, and Nurse Manager Chanie Stoffer, the Survivor Clinic currently cares for over 1,000 survivors of childhood cancer. The multidisciplinary staff help the survivors deal with deleterious effects of chemotherapy and radiation, new cancers that
Hadassah's Clinic staff work in concert with specialists from the fields of rehabilitation, cardiology, pulmonology