I had been wanting to travel to Israel, arguably one of the holiest places on earth, for quite some time. So, naturally, I jumped on the opportunity to join Armstrong on a trip to the middle eastern country. Our focus was Sheba Medical Center (also known as Tel HaShomer Hospital), the country's national hospital which is based in Tel Aviv. Sheba Medical Center, which just celebrated its 70th anniversary is one of the largest and finest hospitals in the middle east, constantly on the forefront of medical innovation and breakthrough. As someone in the medical profession, I was very excited about this opportunity.
I spent two days with Armstrong exploring Sheba's roughly 200-acre campus and talking to a variety of their clinicians about the impact Sheba has not only on the medical field but also on people from all over the middle east. When I say all over the Middle East, I mean all over the Middle East. Based on the mainstream media's portrayal of Israel as the aggressor and instigator of the challenges in the area, you might find it hard to believe that on a daily basis, Sheba offers aid to both Palestinians & Syrians. Keep in mind, these are two groups of people, particularly the Palestinians, who are supposed to be Israel's arch-nemesis. However, within the walls of the hospital, differences are set aside so that lives, particularly those of innocent children, can be saved. In fact, Sheba has even treated the leader of Hamas' grandchild.
Armstrong and I talked with the doctor who helped save the life of a young girl after she was critically injured when a bomb fell on her home in Syria, her younger brother perished in their mother's arms in the same incident. Taught to hate all Jews, the girl's mother was hesitant to accept the help she was offered. However, when she realized this was the only hope for her daughter, she agreed to seek care in Israel. Together with Israeli soldiers, Sheba helped transport the girl across hostile territory so that she could be treated at Sheba. She and her mother arrived with her hours after the attack with only the clothes on their backs. Nurses in the ward brought toiletries and clothes to help the mother feel at home. The girl and her mother spent two months at Sheba's Pediatric Unit before returning to Syria to be reunited with their remaining family.
We also had the opportunity to speak with a pediatric doctor who regularly provides medical care to Palestinian children from Gaza. Apparently, due to inbreeding in the community, there is an increase in genetic disorders in Palestinian children. Sheba works with these children and their families to determine, whenever possible, what each specific condition is and how it can be treated. I met one Palestinian mother and her young daughter who were current patients at Sheba. The mother explained to me that she was learning how to give her daughter weekly injections that are necessary to treat her disease. When the girl is discharged, they will take a month's supply of the medication, not available in Gaza with them and the mother will be responsible for giving the lifesaving injections. It is impossible to articulate just how incredible it was to see the obvious respect and appreciation that the Palestinian mother had for the Jewish doctor treating her daughter.
Two days at Sheba Medical Center was simply not enough time to absorb all of the incredible things happening at the hospital and I look forward to future trips to Israel. In an increasingly volatile part of the world, Sheba Medical Center in the heart of Israel is a place where political beliefs and religious views are transcended on a daily basis. Sheba is a beacon of light that we can all learn from and that we should all look to for guidance.