When Radical Innovation Heals a Soldier

May 3, 2024

Since its founding by David Ben Gurion in 1948, Sheba Medical Center has been a leader in using technology to heal. But sometimes it seems as if science fiction has come to life.

Omri Rosenblit was a commander in the elite special forces unit of Sayaret Tzahanim. His team was conducting an operation in Khan Younis checking houses for Hamas members in hiding.

They were about to leave one house when an explosion caused the entire structure to collapse in on them. Buried under rubble, his team members thought he had been killed, but Omri was able to push one hand up through the debris covering him, showing he was still alive. However, he was badly injured.

His left leg was crushed beyond saving and his right leg was badly damaged. He was severely burned on his left arm and his right shoulder was dislocated. He also suffered a crush injury to his face that fractured his skull, cheekbone and eye socket so badly that one eye was lower than the other and he would have permanent double vision.

Like most critical Gaza injuries, Omri was helicoptered to Sheba, where doctors worked to save his life.

His left leg required amputation, in addition to many other treatments. The trickiest challenge was how to solve the problem with his eye socket.

Enter Sheba innovation, technology and Israeli “can do” spirit.

Omri’s entire skull was imaged in fine detail. Senior Oculoplastic Surgeon Dr. Ayelet Priel and Director of Orthognathic Surgery Dr. Tal Yoffe then used the data to print a 3D version of his skull, which allowed the surgeons to plan their procedure and use the undamaged side of his head to understand how to reconstruct the damaged side.

They also designed and 3D printed a plate to graft into his head and create a new “floor” for his eye socket. Along the way, Dr. Yoffe noted how Omri’s unwavering and positive spirit fueled his determination from the moment he arrived.

While Sheba doctors treat every patient with meticulous care, the bond between the staff and wounded soldiers is special: “They are like our own children,” says Dr. Yoffe. That level of love and care, along with his own drive, will bring Omri to the next stage of his life after he leaves Sheba.

As Dr. Ayelet Priel said: “We operate with our head, hands, and heart.”

Indeed they do.  A lot of heart.

Am Yisrael Chai


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