Israel is Leading the Way in Neonatal Care and Here's Why

Hadassah On Call: New Frontiers in Medicine

Dr. Smadar Eventov-Friedman is the Director of Hadassah Hospital's Department of Neonatology. Recently awarded the Outstanding Neonatal Unit award from Israel’s Ministry of Health, her unit as she describes it, is a bridge between obstetrics and pediatrics, offering a unique approach to neonatology. In this episode she gives insight into her growing field, shares inspiring stories of miracle babies and tells listeners how fathers can help welcome their newest addition safely.

About this episode

Dr. Smadar Eventov-Friedman is the Director of the Department of Neonatology at both of Hadassah's hospitals. Her department was awarded the "Outstanding Neonatal Unit" award in Israel's Ministry of Health's 2018 Star Program. Born in Israel, she attended Technion—Israel Institute of Technology; Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University; and the Weizmann Institute of Science. She studied Neonatology in Toronto at The Hospital for Sick Children. She heads the Committee of Infants with Disabilities and is a member of several committees including the Committee of Pregnancy Termination, Safe Kids Israel and The National Center for Children's Safety & Health Organization.

About This Episode

"Hadassah On Call" host Benyamin Cohen was so small when he was born that, on the morning of his bris, his parents weren’t sure if he weighed enough to even have the procedure done. So, they did what any typical Jewish parent would do: they took their newborn baby to the kosher butcher. They simply didn’t have the right kind of scale at home. He did weigh just enough, the circumcision went off without a hitch, and Benyamin was introduced to his Jewish community — albeit with a slight, seemingly sacrificial, detour to a butcher’s shop.

Decades later, he has remained fascinated with the medical issues surrounding babies with low birth weights. And so this month's guest, Dr. Smadar Eventov-Friedman was particularly interesting to him.

Yet Eventov-Friedman is more than just your average neonatal doctor. She is the director of Hadassah Hospital's Department of Neonatology, which was recently awarded the "Outstanding Neonatal Unit" award from Israel’s Ministry of Health. Her unit — which she describes as a bridge between obstetrics and pediatrics — offers a unique approach to neonatology. "Today, we are looking at the neonatal intensive care unit as not just doctors or nurses," she explains. "The magic word is multidisciplinary care."

Premature babies are a fairly common occurrence, with about 8-10% of babies in the Western world fitting into that category. Thankfully, medical advancements have improved over the past 30 years and the survival rate of premature babies has increased dramatically. Israel stands towards the top of this ranking in no small part due to the dedicated work and research being done at Hadassah Hospital.

Eventov-Friedman, who dreamed about becoming a doctor from a young age, is happy to pass on her knowledge to a wider audience. In this episode, she reveals some warning signs to giving birth prematurely, what happens when a baby is born premature and what parents can do — including the father — to help the baby grow and get healthy. (Let’s just say it has something to do with kangaroos.) Plus, the doctor tells the inspiring stories of miracle babies she’s had the pleasure of helping. "We are facing now a new era," she says. "To treat these babies, and also to give them, with their families, the best treatment and the best quality of life as can be achieved."

Read a transcript of this episode.

“Hadassah On Call: New Frontiers in Medicine” is a production of Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America. Hadassah enhances the health of people around the world through medical education, care and research innovations at the Hadassah Medical Organization. For more information on the latest advances in medicine please head over to

Subscribe to our podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, or your favorite podcast app. If you haven't already, please leave us a review on the Apple Podcast store. It only takes a minute and when you do, it helps others discover Hadassah on Call.

The show is hosted by Benyamin Cohen and edited by Skyler Inman and the team at the Hadassah offices in both New York and Israel.

This episode includes promotions for:

Hadassah Israel Travel

Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America takes several trips to Israel every year and guess what; you're invited. The trips for 2020 are already filling up. The trip in February will highlight Israel's bountiful nature and ecology, a March trip will unmask the country's vibrant art scene, an April trip will celebrate Yom Ha'atzmaut - Israel's Independence Day, a trip in May will tour Israeli wineries and dine in some of the Mediterranean's finest restaurants, a June trip will showcase Israel's music scene, and an August one will be dedicated to exploring the country's vast archaeological sites. If this sounds like "a can't miss opportunity" to you, head on over to for more info and to explore the full calendar of trips and itineraries.


The Branch

This podcast offers a glimpse into the everyday lives of Jews and Arabs in Israel forging meaningful relationships. Presented by Hadassah and hosted by Dina Kraft, The Branch shines a light on the stories of people living the example of a shared society. Together. Even though it's complicated.

We'd love to know your thoughts, questions, and stories! Send us an email anytime at