Seven-year-old Michael Gross and his five year- old brother Yitzhak – whose two younger sisters died from insecticide poisoning in their home in Jerusalem’s Givat Mordechai neighborhood three weeks ago – were discharged from Petah Tikva’s Schneider Children’s Medical Center on Monday.
They are healthy and normal thanks to the devoted medical staff and Schneider’s ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) machine – one of a handful in the country, which pumped blood through their bodies and oxygen into their lungs as their severely damaged hearts recovered. Their sisters – two-yea rold Yael and four-year-old sister Avigail – died at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center on the same day they were overcome by toxic fumes in their home after an exterminator sealed up one room with chemicals to kill wood-eating bugs instead of sending the family away for a day or two.
The boys were rushed to Petah Tikva but not given much of a chance to survive. The haredi parents added Haim and Raphael to their names in the hope that it would help them survive.
A large, interdisciplinary team of pediatricians, social workers, psychologists, nurses, physiotherapists, art therapists and medical clowns treated them as they regained consciousness.
Their father, Shimon Gross, said they were leaving the hospital with mixed feelings of endless joy for the miracle that happened and the sadness and anguish over the girls whose lives were lost. He and his wife said the people of Israel strengthened them with a big hug since the catastrophe occurred.
The exterminator was put under house arrest and is apparently going to be prosecuted for alleged negligence. The chemicals he used are not permitted to be used inside homes.
Schneider director-general Prof. Joseph Press said the members of the staff were excited and moved by their success in saving the boys.