Unlike Any Other

January 26, 2024

Sheba Medical Center has the largest number of hostages treated since October 7…the largest number of soldiers and civilians treated since October 7…the increasing percentages of critically injured soldiers and civilians being saved by our skilled surgeons…the largest percentage of soldiers in innovative rehabilitation programs in order to return them to a daily routine.

No hospital in the world right now is in the middle of an on-going daily battle to use its medical talents and innovations in order to heal the bodies and souls of hundreds of soldiers and civilians, as Sheba Medical Center is doing. Yes, our colleagues in other Israeli hospitals are also doing a great job to save lives. But as the largest hospital in Israel and the region, Sheba’s staff is being tested 24/7 to make the impossible – possible.

Ben Binyamin, wounded by a grenade at the Nova music festival, in Sheba’s Physiotherapy Department.

More miraculous work is being done at Israel’s National Burn Center, located at Sheba.

It is a Level-1 burn trauma center that has received patients from Israel, Gaza, the West Bank, and other countries since it was established ten years ago. Treatment is by plastic surgeons, nurses specially trained in intensive care and burn treatment, physiotherapists, clinical psychologists, and social workers. This multidisciplinary team, together with other specialists at Sheba, prepares patients for the long rehabilitation process they face.

Forbes recently reported on how Dr. Josef Haik, Sheba’s leading specialist on burns, treated a young couple and their 18-month-old baby. Residents of Kfar Aza, a kibbutz near the Gaza border, they were critically injured when the terrorists had set fire to their home.

“They were cooked alive inside the safe room of their house,” says Dr. Haik. Ever since the 1991 Gulf War, in which Israel was attacked by Iraqi missiles, Israeli homes are required to have fortified “safe rooms” that can withstand a rocket attack. As Dr. Haik notes, Israel is probably the only country in the world with such a mandated building code, and the safe room protected the family until they managed to escape. Critically injured, they survived the attack, unlike 72 of their Kfar Aza neighbors that were killed that day and 18 that were kidnapped.

Rescued by Israeli soldiers from where they were hiding in the fields near the kibbutz, the family was airlifted to Sheba where all three were sedated and put on ventilators. The father was burned on 50 percent of his body and the mother had 60 percent burns, reports Dr. Haik. Both were protecting the baby with their bodies, so she had “only” 30 percent burns.

The quality of care, however, helped ensure a relatively speedy recovery and improved healing process. The father and baby were discharged after 30 days and the mother shortly thereafter.

As the chairman of the Israeli Association for Plastic Surgery, on October 8th Dr. Haik helped organize the country’s entire community of plastic surgeons. This included identifying all the plastic surgeons in state hospitals and private practice and assigning them to specific hospitals, as well as providing update courses.

Working with reduced staff and in an ongoing traumatic situation is a heavy burden on the medical team. “It’s a huge burnout,” says Dr. Haik, “but we are resilient and strong. We’ll survive.”

Am Yisrael Chai.


PS: Last week we had another sold-out mission to Israel to volunteer at Sheba, help on a farm, meet hostage families and more. If you want to join us, we are sending another mission February 18-22. More information here.

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