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, "How many places can you be where perfect strangers come to you with such kindness?"
Barbara Goldstein, Deputy Director of Hadassah's Office in Israel, for example, brought them some dates. Sarabeth Lukin, Israel Coordinator for the Influentials to Israel Program, visited with them and took extra care to make sure they felt they had a friend at Hadassah to help them through this unexpected "detour" in the trip. In response to a query from the Congressman about the meaning of Hadassah, Mrs. Lukin also enlightened them about Hadassah's founder, Henrietta Szold, and the beginning years of Hadassah Hospital.
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.
The Institute of General Medicine comprises thirteen departments and nine Centers of Excellence. Each a leader in its field, the Centers include the Unit for the Early Detection of Colorectal Cancer, Center for Aging Research, National Center for Down Syndrome, and National SLE (LUPUS) Center. Its stellar Intensive Care Unit is world renowned.
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."