DO BELIEVE some of the things you DON'T READ in the papers

Whilst Arab terrorists continue to call for Israel's annihilation, Jewish doctors fight to save Palestinian children. But do you hear or read about this in the media?

first published 09/09/08

A Neighbour’s Child

Once again I have received a letter from my friend Larry at the Emek Medical Center in Israel. Again he recounts a story of the treatment of two Palestinian children who arrived at the hospital. I hope you find this story illuminating. For the staff at the hospital, it was just another day at the office.

Doctors and Palestinian ChildOn Friday afternoon, the 22nd of August, 2008 five-year old Hassan Shgadi was playing outside with his ten-year old brother. They live in the Palestinian village of Kfar Adja that is adjacent to Jenin. Both were barefoot when a large yellow scorpion (poisonous and deadly) aggressively attacked their feet. Both boys were stung, little Hassan in the big toe of his left foot and his big brother on his ankle.
Their anguished cries were heard by their mother and neighbors and they immediately rushed the two brothers to the Jenin Hospital. Anti-serum was administered to both, but Hassan’s condition quickly deteriorated to where his lungs began to fail and the physicians feared that they were losing him.

Frantic calls were made to the liaison officer on the Israeli side who is responsible for coordinating medical emergencies and getting a patient to an Israeli hospital. Precious time was ticking by and it was after midnight before the child was transferred from a Palestinian to an Israeli ambulance at the Jenin checkpoint manned by Israeli soldiers. Focus if you will for just a moment on a close up of that scene … Palestinian hands passing an unconscious and dying child into Israeli hands.

Five-year old Hassan arrived to Emek’s PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) at 3:00 AM, unconscious and near death. It was the Sabbath in Israel, but a normal night for the physicians and nurses on staff In EMC. Hassan’s father, Kassam, arrived shortly thereafter. The boy was connected to an advanced life-support ventilator and the medical team began administering critical medications. Dr. Yossi Merzel, the Head of PICU explained, “The child’s lungs were inflamed beyond their capacity to function and he was extremely weak. We monitored his heart that was strong and we were hopeful that we could save him.”

Five days have gone by and only today, Thursday, 28th, little Hassan was taken off his ventilator and is breathing on his own. His father spoke to him briefly when the boy awoke. The first words out of Hassan’s mouth were his asking about his big brother and if he was ok. His brother was released from the Jenin Hospital after two days.

Dr. Merzel said that the boy should be going home early next week. Kassam, the father, could not say enough about the EMC medical staff and treatment that he received here. He was given a room next to the PICU and treated with dignity and respect.
I asked him, considering our mutual regional histories, if he has anything to say to the outside world. He answered in broken Hebrew, “When I stood next to the bed and saw the Jewish hands working to save my son – I understood in that moment that this is the essence of life. We are neighbors and we can live together. Nothing else matters.”

My grandson is also five years old. I couldn’t help comparing the two as I looked upon the sleeping Hassan. Two little boys, vulnerable and dependant upon the wisdom of the adults around them. I’m glad that we were able to save our neighbour’s child.

Haifa Diarist, 28/01/2009

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