In a dramatic race to treat a critically injured Palestinian youth, an Israeli emergency medical team rushed to an Arab hospital in Jerusalem with the equipment needed to save his life.
When 18 year-old Muhammad Jabri from the city of Hebron went out to celebrate the end of high school, the evening ended with a near-fatal motor accident that left him critically injured. After initial treatment in a Hebron hospital, he was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem.
When Jabri’s condition suddenly began to deteriorate, the doctors realized that his lungs were damaged beyond their capacity to resuscitate him. At this point Dr. Abed El-Rauf Bey, head of ICU, urgently contacted Dr. Tzvi Adler, a senior specialist in the Cardiac Surgery Department at Rambam Hospital in Haifa.
A team from Rambam had recently gone to Augusta Victoria with an ECMO (ExtraCorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) machine to administer temporary external cardiac and respiratory support to one of their Palestinian patients. This same ECMO machine, Bey realized, was the key to saving young Jabri as well.
That same night an ambulance set out from Rambam to Jerusalem, carrying the machine and a medical team led by Adler. Arriving at the hospital, they connected the youth to the ECMO and then carefully transported him to Rambam.
“His condition was precarious when he arrived here, but the ECMO gave his lungs a rest and his body the chance to recuperate,” Adler explained.
A little over two weeks later, at the ICU unit at Rambam, Jabri is out of danger and ready to return to the hospital in Jerusalem. “We expect he will make a full recovery,” says Assistant Professor Gil Bolotin, director of the Cardiac Surgery Department. “Our department cooperates with hospitals throughout Israel, extending this life-saving equipment wherever it is needed.”
This incident is by no means a unique instance of Israelis providing Palestinians with medical treatment. Israeli hospitals and medical teams have a long track record of treating Palestinian patients, in many cases free of charge.
IDF medical teams and Israeli civilian emergency units from communities in Judea and Samaria regularly treat local Arabs, often after car accidents, for a broad array of ailments and injuries. Walking to an IDF checkpoint or to the front gate of an Israeli community for medical treatment is common practice among Arabs living in the Palestinian Authority (PA)-administered territories. In some months, Israeli medics treat more Palestinians than Israelis.
In July, the IDF announced it has established a designated IDF reserves company that focuses entirely on providing medical care and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian population.
Rambam Health Care Campus (RHCC) in Haifa provides medical care to hundreds of patients from Gaza and the PA-administered territories year round; 650 children and teenagers were treated there throughout 2013.
During Operation Protective Edge last summer, as terrorists in Gaza were firing on Israeli citizens, patients at Rambam included three adults and eight children from Gaza as well as three adults and two children from the PA, in addition to seven patients from the PA in outpatient clinics.