Lama said that she doesn’t remember what she put into the small bag she was carrying when she stepped into the ambulance. She doesn’t remember the last words her husband, who was riding with her, said to her before they separated at the Erez crossing. From the moment she left Shifa Hospital until she arrived at Sheba Medical Center some five hours later, Lima’s eyes never left the incubator that was holding her 2.5-month-old son Abdullah.
It was Monday, May 10, 2021, the day in which the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza escalated. The ambulance that brought her and her son to Israel was the last allowed through the Erez crossing before it was closed for 13 days. Soon after, Abdullah was admitted to Sheba Medical Center.
Abdullah was born two months prematurely with a complicated heart defect. Lama and her husband realized they would need to fight for his life. “I was afraid. Abdullah’s condition wasn’t good and he lost weight,” Lama said. “I prayed to God for help and after a doctor at Shifa Hospital recommended that we send him to Israel for treatment, we reached out for assistance.”
According to Dr. Evyatar Hubara, senior physician in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Sheba:
“The doctors in Gaza performed the wrong operation on Abdullah when he was two months old. A week after the operation, his condition began to deteriorate, and a week later he reached us. In the first few hours, we needed to stabilize him and keep his blood pressure steady with medication. When he was stable, we started to look into the problem. From the beginning, we explained each step to his mother, and she trusted us with her son. Eventually, we found that Abdullah was suffering from aortic valve stenosis.”
Every year, Sheba treats around 500 children from the Gaza Strip and another 2,700 children from the West Bank.
“It matters little if a child comes to us from Gaza, Nablus, or Tiberias,” said Dr. Itai Pessach, Director of the Edmond and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital.
“I’m happy to say that the external tensions did not affect our work, and there was no friction between the staff and the patients. The good of the patient always comes before everything else, and we all share a common goal – to make the patient better. A patient needs to feel secure, and that’s what we do. Sheba is a home for all patients.”