“We came to spend an innocent, routine day at the beach, not for the first time. We set up our tent, lit a barbecue and decided to go for a walk on the beach,” said Yossi Zarfati, her partner.
A kiteboard suddenly flew towards them, pulled by a strong wind. The ropes tangled around Libby’s arm as the kite continued to travel, dragging the 45-year old woman in the air for hundreds of meters.
Kitesurfing is a popular activity at Beit Yanai beach. It’s a form of surfing that involves a special kite that harnesses the power of the wind to propel the surfer, who stands on a small surfboard, along the surface of the water.
Fortunately for Libby, other beach-goers saw what had happened, recognized the disaster, and rushed to offer assistance.
“There was one person who managed to stop the kite and cut the ropes with a knife. We immediately noticed that I had suffered a very severe injury to my arm and artery. There was blood everywhere. That person applied pressure, like a “human tourniquet” to block the artery,” Lin recalled.
MDA emergency paramedics arrived at the beach with a special 4X4 ambulance. A preliminary examination revealed that her bleeding was life-threatening. A tourniquet was placed on her arm and she was moved to a nearby parking lot where an ICU unit was waiting to evacuate Libby to Sheba Medical Center.
Surgeons at Sheba operated on Libby throughout the night, working hard to restore her arm back to place, hoping to prevent the worst-case scenario which would have been an arm amputation. Even after the surgery, there was concern that irreversible damage had been caused, and doctors were fearful that an arm amputation would have to be performed.
She was hospitalized for a month and a half, spending three weeks in the vascular department before being transferred to orthopedic rehabilitation.
Story of Recovery – A Kiteboard Threatened to Take Libby Zin’s Arm and Life
“Today, I celebrate my birth anew,” said Libby. “It is one year since I underwent a life-saving surgery at the vascular department at Sheba Medical Center. When I woke up in the morning after the surgery, it was to a new reality, completely different from my previous life.”
By trade and passion, Libby is a professional ceramicist and studio owner, with a love for sewing handcrafted bags. Her hands are her tools, so arm amputation would have been the end. This, along with her desire to remain a mother to her charming girls, kept her strongly motivated to heal. Once she returned home from the hospital, she came back every day for intensive physiotherapy and occupational therapy sessions.
“My road is still long, with plenty of rehabilitation ahead. But I stayed alive. Without our health, we have nothing. That’s the important message I learned,” said Libby. “Also, it’s impossible for me to not thank the people who helped and continue to help me. Because of them, I have something to fight for. To all the doctors, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, orthopedic specialists, nurses and supportive staff at Sheba, I say thank you. I thank everyone for their concern, caring, support, kind words, empathy, sympathy, patience and above all – super professionalism.”