Doctor in china.
(photo credit: Rambam Medical Center)
They had never heard of Israel, let alone Jews, but the residents and medical
staffers in a village in northeastern China are now very grateful to a Haifa
doctor who saved women’s lives in the local hospital.
Dr. Amnon Amit, a
gynecological oncologist at Rambam Medical Center, spends his time performing
surgery on women who suffer from tumors, most of them cancerous.
was approached by MATAT, a voluntary organization based in Kfar Saba that sends
engineers, scientists, agricultural experts and physicians to far-lung places
around the world, he agreed to spend three weeks in the “village” of Xinghua.
Despite its classification, it has 120,000 residents – about the size of Bat Yam
His solo trip to China brought him to Beijing for one day and
then a four hour’s drive from Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province. Assisted by
a full-time simultaneous translator, Amit found himself in the village‚s
1,200-bed general hospital.
As the facility lacked much basic medical
equipment, the Chinese government purchased what he had ordered and donated it
to the hospital for his use; it will remain there for the benefit of the
population, Amit told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
None of the many
people he encountered, other than his translator, spoke or understood English,
forcing him to explain the laparoscopic (“keyhole”) surgery procedures to
doctors with the interpreter, pantomime and hand movements.
laparoscopic equipment, he removed diseased uteruses and ovaries from 18 women,
thus saving their lives.
“They were in their 50s and 60s, which is the
average life expectancy for people in the village. Many in the surrounding area
receive no medical care at all,” Amit explained. “Only the lucky ones see
doctors, as there is no universal health insurance.”
The Rambam surgeon
was in China for three weeks and returned about 10 days ago. He had never been
to that country before.
“The conditions in the hospital where I worked
were like those at Rambam many years ago,” he said. “But China is developing at
rapid speed and in two years, Xinghua will have a modern new hospital like those
in Israel. This region is undergoing huge changes, but it still must close great
“There are few computers, and their national Internet is only in
Chinese; they are not linked up to international websites,” said Amit. “It’s a
different world there. The people are cut off from the advanced medical world.
The lifestyle is similar to the way Israelis lived 60 years ago, although they
do have cellular phones today.”
It was also very hot – 38 to 40º
Centigrade and with 70 percent humidity. There were air conditioners only in the
surgical theaters, making the heat oppressive everywhere else.
hospital has no gynecological oncologists; there is no such profession in the
“But I taught surgeons, who work with very old-fashioned
laparoscopy equipment. No chemotherapy or radiotherapy is available at the
hospital to treat cancer patients, and the surgeons don’t have much experience.
But all 18 operations were successful,” Amit said.
The Xinghua hospital’s
staffers were highly motivated and dedicated, but they were not updated in
“The women I operated on were so thankful and gushing
that I was embarrassed,” Amit said.
“I would be glad to go on another
such mission, elsewhere if not to China. I would prefer going to new
spread the word about us. Now they know something about Israel and our
technologies, and they regard us in a completely positive light, Not
only did my
visit address a widespread medical need, it was the best possible type
diplomacy,” Amit concluded.
Plans are now under way to bring the Chinese
team to Rambam, as well as for a return trip of other Rambam personnel.