Dima Ashepkov’s Story – Leukemia Treatment at Sheba Medical Center
In February 2012, a family from Chelyabinsk, Russia faced a critical situation. Their 11-month old son, Dima, was seriously ill. Dima’s mother, Julia, recalls, “For an entire month, Dima suffered from recurring fevers and small bruises appeared on his body. The doctor said that he was teething, and I had to look after him better. Since Dima was never out of my sight, I couldn’t understand the reason for the bruises.”
On February 22, his condition deteriorated sharply. Dima began to refuse milk and water. Julia called an ambulance and Dima was taken to intensive care. Julia says, “Dima was taken to the hospital with suspicion of pneumonia. When he was taken away, the doctor said to prepare for the worst since he was in very serious condition. I cannot describe my feelings. It just felt like the ground had fallen out from beneath me. My husband and I were not allowed to see Dima, so we spent the entire day waiting at the hospital.”
That evening, his parents received news that Dima was being transferred to the Oncology Department as his hemoglobin and platelet results were critically abnormal.
“The doctor told us that, judging from those results, he didn’t have much time left,” relates Julia. The diagnosis shook his parents – acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Dima ended up staying in the Oncology Department for the next month and a half.
Julia continues, “My husband and I talked with the head of the department in an attempt to understand Dima’s prognosis. We were told his chance of recovery was 50/50. My husband and I simply could not accept that. I had met a family online whose daughter was successfully treated at Sheba Medical Center.
Sheba’s recovery rate was much higher than that of Russian hospitals. So we decided to visit Sheba and have Dima treated there. Dr. Hana Golan was the physician who treated Dima at Sheba, and I thank her sincerely for saving our son’s life.”
When asked why Julia and her husband decided to go to a strange, unfamiliar country for medical treatment, she answers confidently, “Our decision to take our son to Israel for treatment was not made lightly. Sheba had an 86% cure rate. After thoroughly studying leukemia treatment in Israel versus Russia, the decision was clear. If we had even a single chance to save our son’s life, we would take it.”
Julia notes the fact that treatment of leukemia and other types of cancer is advancing by leaps and bounds in Israel. There are new drugs tested regularly, novel treatment methods being developed, and constant collaboration with medically-advanced countries like Germany and the United States. “When the life and health of a child is at stake, parents have a right to choose where and in which clinic to treat their children,” emphasizes Julia.
“At Sheba, we were welcomed by our beloved medical coordinator, Rimma, who accompanied us from our very first day until our departure – a total of two and a half years. Rimma was always by our side. She resolved any issues and helped with everything. She has a huge heart and helped our family in numerous ways.”
Dima received most of his treatment on an outpatient basis, and Julia is happy with this approach, “I think it’s much easier for children. In Russia, there is no such thing as outpatient treatment in a situation like this.”
She continues, “We often receive calls from others wondering where they can get better treatment. We always recommend Sheba Medical Center. This is the hospital we trust and the best in Israel, in my opinion. They are compassionate professionals. Dima is 6 years old now, and thanks to them he won his battle against leukemia.”