by: Annelize Williams, BFP Staff Writer
Israeli hospitals far surpass the norm of simply a place where sick people go to get better. They are those rare places on earth where miracles seem to abound; not only medical miracles but relational ones as well. Many people of different religious affiliations and all walks of life come together under one roof for one cause—to seek healing. Here one can witness countless creative miracles, as medical professionals employ all their knowledge to mend the fragile human body.
Remarkable, world-renowned medical procedures take place within the walls of these facilities. Israeli doctors discover groundbreaking techniques to some of the most complex medical conditions. Take epilepsy, for example. In 2012, Israeli doctors discovered that by implanting electrodes into an epilepsy patient’s brain and stimulating the neurons, further severe epilepsy attacks were halted. This technique was especially valuable to patients who were not responding to epilepsy medication. The technique, although not new, had never been attempted on an epilepsy patient before, until Israel set the standard. More recently in April 2017, at Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Jerusalem, Israeli doctors performed the world’s first dual robotic surgery—nothing short of a modern-day technological marvel. The surgery was performed on a local factory worker who suffered severe damage to his spine when he fractured six of his spinal vertebrae during a work accident.
Another news story, which was perhaps not as widely publicized, was that of an Arab family who had been in a serious car accident. According to Israel News Online, the father died on impact. The mother, who was seriously injured, and their nine-month old baby survived. While the mother was being tended to in an Israeli hospital, the baby kept crying for almost seven hours. Not having been weaned yet from his mother, the baby was desperately hungry, but had no appetite for a bottle. The family relatives were getting very concerned about the infant and asked the pediatric nurse on duty if a wet-nurse could be found to nurse the baby in his mother’s absence. Without thinking twice, the Jewish pediatric nurse, being a nursing mother herself, volunteered to feed the baby. To the utter amazement of the Arab family, the nurse managed to feed the baby five times before her shift ended. Amazingly we see borders fall away between people groups and a kind of peace is found in Israeli hospitals.
A day does not go by when Syria is not mentioned in the world headlines. Again few news services will focus on the ongoing effort by Israeli doctors to treat and save the lives of literally hundreds of wounded refugees from their neighboring country.
The Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya is especially famous for taking care of wounded Syrian refugees. Due to its location in northern Israel, this facility started opening its doors in 2013 to wounded Syrians. Since then it has become a leader in treating war wounds. Here it is quite common to see patients with shattered faces and missing limbs. Children often arrive, deeply traumatized and in shock. Hospital staff members are fluent in Arabic as they believe this is the first, and most effective, way of removing borders and building trust, speaking to patients in their own language and being able to comfort those in their care.
One of our very own volunteers at Bridges for Peace had a first-hand experience of finding comfort in an Israeli hospital. Christopher Sinclair shared this story of compassion and friendship that he encountered in a local Israeli hospital and during his rehabilitation program. In December 2016 Chris broke his thumb while playing sports and had to undergo surgery. “I was in hospital for two days and one night and received some rehabilitation afterwards from an Israeli physiotherapist,” says Chris. “From my first encounter with the doctor at the intensive care unit, to my last appointment at the rehabilitation unit, I only experienced devoted care and endless compassion.” Chris was assisted by Jewish and Arab hospital staff and even as a Christian volunteer was treated with the same dignity and respect as every other patient. “They made me feel so special and loved for offering my humble services to serve the nation of Israel as a Christian volunteer with Bridges for Peace. I can truly say that my experience of the Israeli medical service was superb and I thank God that I have this scar on my hand, to share this truth with the world, that Israel is not an apartheid state but offers the same treatment to all peoples, despite their race or creed.”
Within the walls of hospitals, often solemn places, people of every race and religion face the same dilemmas. Stripped of their pretenses, one will often encounter people sharing an understanding smile or a word of encouragement. Especially here in Israel, in the face of the fragility of life, differences in race and religion fade and nothing takes precedence over getting a person restored back to health. Chris’s story bears testimony to the fact that within the walls of an Israeli hospital there is but one goal uniting all—to heal the sick and to save lives—no matter where you are from. This common goal in Israel comes from the Hebraic understanding of “tikkun olam,” repairing the world. Jewish people bear not only a responsibility for themselves, but for those around them, for those who cohabitat the land with them. They strive to establish in their actions the qualities of God—mercy, justice and loving-kindness.
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