In the spring of 2020, Dr. Dana Wolf, the longtime head of Hadassah's Virology Unit, took the helm of the Clinical Virology Laboratory, beginning a high-speed race to create a serum of COVID-19 antibodies. At the same time, in an initiative spearheaded by Director General Prof. Zeev Rotstein, Hadassah's Blood Bank began collecting antibody-rich plasma from volunteer donors. Since then, the Israeli biopharmaceutical firm Kamada, working with Hadassah, has produced a passive vaccine: the anti-SARS-CoV-2 plasma-derived immunoglobulin (IgG).
In mid-August, Hadassah Hospital's first recovered passive-vaccine patients are home. As The Times of Israel reports: "The world's first clinical trial for a coronavirus drug made from antibodies got off to a promising start in Jerusalem, with all three patients involved released."
"These early results," says Director General Prof. Zeev Rotstein of the Hadassah Medical Organization, "are enough to raise hope in Israel and around the world."
Hope is what Rosh Hashanah is all about. As you reflect on the past during the High Holy Days, and look ahead to the new year, there's cause for optimism. In 5780, doctors and researchers made incredible strides at Hadassah's hospitals, in addition to significant advances in the fight against COVID-19. Here are just a few examples.
- Lifesaving collaboration: A Hadassah physician collaborated with the Israeli company SodaStream to develop a new device to ease COVID-19 patients' breathing difficulties, currently in clinical trials.
- First for Israel: Hadassah orthopedists performed spinal surgery with a patient awake in order to prevent fatal blood clots.
- Innovative treatment for osteoporosis: A new biological drug treatment for patients with severe osteoporosis is now being used at Hadassah Hospital.
- Groundbreaking research on genetic mutations: Hadassah researchers developed a groundbreaking algorithm to calculate genetic mutations, helping doctors track hereditary diseases.
- Game-changing study on epidurals: A Hadassah study debunked the notion that a woman must take an anesthesia epidural at a certain stage during labor.
- Cutting-edge technology on strokes: New automated cerebral imaging technology called RAPID CT perfusion became available at Hadassah Hospital, saving invaluable minutes when diagnosing a possible stroke.
To help make more of these kinds of successes possible, Hadassah advocates around the United States spoke out to strengthen US-Israel medical partnerships. By expanding international collaboration, medical researchers can develop health technologies, improve methodologies, and enhance training to achieve better health and wellness for the people of both nations.
Hadassah advocacy in 5780 didn't stop there. In response to the unprecedented spike in antisemitism in the US, Hadassah advocates led the way to help secure congressional support for the Never Again Education Act, which funds Holocaust awareness education in schools, and was signed into law on May 29, 2020.
And around the nation, from New York to California, Hadassah health and wellness events educated and engaged communities around the country, raising awareness about breast cancer, heart disease and women's health issues, and helping them better understand the lifesaving advances being made at Hadassah Medical Organization and Hadassah's impact in the US, Israel and in the world.
On behalf of our 300,000 members, Associates and supporters, Hadassah wishes the readers of The Jewish Post a happy new year. Let us embrace every opportunity to come together to raise hope.
This article appeared in the September 25, 2020 issue of The Jewish Post.