As our Chanukah dreidls remind us, more than 2,000 years ago, "A great miracle happened here." But here at Hadassah, great miracles happen every day – so many, in fact, that I had a hard time choosing which to tell you about. I decided to begin with children – and the gift of a better life they received from the staff at Hadassah-Mt. Scopus.
This Chanukah, at home with her family, eight-year-old Rachel will take a deep breath and blow out the candles with ease – thanks to immediate intervention of our medical team. When she arrived at the hospital she could barely breathe because something was blocking the passages to her lungs. Before doctors could even analyze the x-ray, she lost consciousness. After a difficult struggle, they managed to insert a breathing tube and turned their attention to the X-ray. That something that was blocking the passages turned out to be a very large mass. Within minutes, two anesthesiologists, three lung specialists, an ICU specialist and the Head of Pediatrics arrived at the scene. They prepared her for thoracic surgery, where a benign tumor was removed, and a few days later she left Hadassah for Chanukah at home.
Six-year-old Yasmin does not celebrate Chanukah, but this Palestinian child from East Jerusalem still has a reason to rejoice – she is alive and she can eat, even though her body does not absorb the food she enjoys. Because her condition was not diagnosed in time, when she arrived at Hadassah, doctors elsewhere had already removed most of her intestine – they had also just about given up hope. Our doctors managed to insert a tube so that she could receive nutrients. She continues to return to Hadassah for treatment where the staff rejoices in watching her grow up.
At the other end of the spectrum, a 90-something woman will enjoy Chanukah with her family, even though they may celebrate in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. A few days ago she arrived at Hadassah with a perforated duodenal ulcer – something we don't see too often anymore. She was whisked off to the operating room where surgeons used laparoscopy to seal the hole the ulcer was causing. Lively and alert, she is still recovering and we hope to release her before the end of Chanukah.
One of her older counterparts, a 95-year-old, is already arranging her family's Chanukah and joking with her doctors – something that was difficult to imagine when she arrived with septic shock and multi-organ failure. Her systems were shutting down and her chances of survival were not great. At this age, doctors sometimes hesitate to take aggressive measures but her 70-year-old daughter insisted, pointing that her mother was mentally very sharp with many years ahead of her. Our doctors proceeded with great caution – and great success, weaning her from the breathing machine and medications.
A Christian pilgrim will celebrate Christmas in good health and tell others about how her dip in the Dead Sea nearly became a fatal experience. After swallowing a large amount of Dead Sea water, with its rich mineral content, she was rushed to Hadassah with a highly unstable level of salt in her blood. After considerable time and treatment she recovered completely and went home for a very, Merry Christmas.
I could tell you about the many other medical miracles that take place in every department almost every day; about the many, many other people who are alive today because Hadassah was there to help – about the 70-year-old man who recovered from a severe cerebral hemorrhage and the 28-year-old woman who is now going ahead with her wedding plans because her hematological disease is in remission; about a young soldier who was bitten by a venomous viper, the 38-year-old man with severe Swine Flu who developed acute respiratory failure, the 18-year-old young woman with Familial Dysautonomia who underwent major stomach surgery and the 50-year-old man who arrived with a rare and unusual fever that took several days to diagnose – but it would be impossible to completely describe the breadth and depth of the lifesaving miracles that commonly occur on both our campuses.
While the letters on your dreidles state "a great miracle happened there," here or there, the message is the miracle – Hadassah is the miracle that unites us. As you light your Chanukah candles and spin your dreidles, know that together we make these miracles possible.
Chag Chanukah Sameach,
Prof. Ehud Kokia