There are some things we don’t understand until we see them with our own eyes. For more than a week we were getting frantic calls from the family of ten-year-old Ibrahim in Gaza. He was a Wolfson Medical Center patient, waiting at home for his turn for surgery, and now hospitalized in the ICU of a poorly-equipped hospital in Gaza. When I looked at his sparse medical report, I couldn’t see that it was a matter of life-and-death that would justify pulling him out of the Wolfson queue and taking him to another hospital in Israel. Finally Ibrahim was sent to an Islamic charitable hospital in East Jerusalem. They put together a comprehensive new medical report on Wednesday that looked more serious, and that night our Gaza coordinator Yousef and I went to see Ibrahim:
He was able to get up and shuffle over to us. When I asked how he was doing, he looked at me intently and said in a strained whisper that his stomach was hurting. The ICU staff told me they couldn’t do his surgery in Jerusalem, and they would send him urgently the next day to Ramallah. “Could they do the surgery there?” I asked. They shrugged–there was no alternative, since the Palestinian Authority has stopped referring patients to Israel. That’s when our calling became clear to me. Would I send my own son to be operated on in Ramallah? By no means. So what does it mean to love our neighbor as ourselves? The next morning Hadassah Hospital agreed to accept Ibrahim into their new cardiac critical care center, with our promise to contribute half the normal cost for a heart surgery:
On first examination that afternoon they were shocked to see that Ibrahim’s aorta was torn, and he would not live another 48 hours without intervention. Finally this boy’s life was treated as the precious gift that it is. Doctors scrambled to emergently put together a surgical team, and Ibrahim was rushed in for a “huge, life-and-death operation” that replaced the stem and valve of his aorta, and the ascending aorta, with the blood vessel of a cow.
By the next day, our friend Dr. Uri texted to tell us that Ibrahim was awake and smiling. Praise God.