Jacob Zauberman, MD, is a Senior Physician in the Department of Neurosurgery. This department at Sheba is the leader in its field in Israel, and Dr. Zauberman is a highly requested physician on staff. His superior and specialized skills are in constant demand by patients suffering from brain tumors, and he is always happy to help – particularly when the case is very complex.
“The brain intrigued me from the very beginning of my medical studies. At first, I thought about going into neurology, but I realized that I wanted something more practical and hands-on. I wanted to see the immediate results of treatment, and I became enchanted by the field of neurosurgery,” says Dr. Zauberman.
Dr. Zauberman has served as a physician at Sheba Medical Center since 1998, when he began his internship. He received his medical degree from the Faculty of Medicine at the Technion –Israel Institute of Technology, and then completed his internship and residency in neurosurgery at Sheba in 2005. Following this, he spent two years training in neuro-oncology, brain tumors, and pediatric neurosurgery in the United States, advancing in his specialty before returning to work in Israel.
“My objective has always been to have the tools to deal with the most complicated cases, which are of particular interest to me,” says Dr. Zauberman.
One memorable case that Dr. Zauberman describes was when he performed surgery on a child with a brain stem tumor, one of the most complicated tumors in the field of neurosurgery. This boy’s parents researched many hospitals and physicians in Israel before choosing Dr. Zauberman. He managed to extract most of the tumor without causing any damage to the brain stem. Against all odds, the surgery was successful.
Yulia But’s young son underwent surgery with Dr. Zauberman, and she shares both her experience and her appreciation for his high-level care.
“Our son, Kirill, suffered from recurrent incidents of vomiting since he was just one year old. After receiving treatment from several hospitals in Russia, we brought Kirill to Sheba. At that point, he was 3 years old and weighed only 7.5 kg. While the doctors in Russia had told us Kirill had a gastrointestinal disorder, the doctors at Sheba did their own testing and diagnosed him with a brain stem tumor. They treated him with two rounds of chemotherapy in order to reduce the size of the tumor, but it didn’t work.
That’s when Dr. Zauberman met with us for a consultation. He explained Kirill’s condition and reassured us that he would do everything possible for our son. He was both highly professional and filled with empathy. So we gave our consent for him to perform surgery. After the procedure, Dr. Zauberman came to visit Kirill every day. We still have a way to go fighting his cancer, but the tumor is much smaller now – and our son feels much better.”
When asked about the surgeries that he finds most challenging, Dr. Zauberman responds that they are the procedures dependent upon reaching tumors deep in the brain, without going through the brain. In modern neurosurgery, it is known that there are areas that can be entered in the brain without impairing function, but the specific effects – mental and behavioral – of each area are not fully understood. Therefore, reaching the tumor and removing it without causing injury to brain tissue is hugely satisfying. In his words, “that is the art of neurosurgery.”
Israel is home to many technological developments, and Dr. Zauberman is excited to take advantage of them. An excellent example is inoperative MRI, which was adopted worldwide. He also learned and mastered his skills in minimally invasive endoscopic surgery. The next development is expected to be in treating very malignant brain tumors, as countless studies explore the use of biological drugs.
Due to a variety of advances, the Sheba team has been able to facilitate a full recovery in children with specific types of tumors that used to be fatal within a few years. In general, neuro-oncology and neurosurgery are on the verge of a real breakthrough, and Dr. Zauberman is ready and waiting to implement the newest treatments.
In Dr. Zauberman’s point of view, medical tourism enables the world to reach Sheba’s first-rate physicians, and enables Sheba to reach the world.
“I have been privileged to treat many international patients, and we create a strong relationship with them. Personal connections are often formed, and a number of my past patients continue to send me greetings years after they underwent surgery and left Sheba,” he shares.