How one wounded Syrian girl made her way to an Israeli hospital

The injured, unconscious girl and her mother were driven to the border with Israel, where an IDF medical team quickly performed an operation to stabilize her.

July 2, 2018 11:20
2 minute read.
How one wounded Syrian girl made her way to an Israeli hospital

Internally displaced people from Deraa province arrive near the Golan Heights in Quneitra, Syria June 29, 2018.. (photo credit: REUTERS/ALAA AL-FAQIR)


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An American family celebrating their daughter's Bat Mitzvah at a private event on the Golan Height last week, played an integral role in saving the life of a critically injured Syrian girl.

Professor Yitshak Kreiss, Director General of Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, was on his way to the Golan Heights last Thursday to participate in the celebration when he received an urgent phone call from the IDF informing him about a severely wounded 10-year-old Syrian girl, who was the victim of an aerial bombing raid by the Syrian Air Force in the embattled Deraa region in southwest Syria. The girl's sister was killed in the raid, while her brother was also injured and taken to another medical facility somewhere in Syria.

The injured, unconscious girl and her mother were driven to the border with Israel, where an IDF medical team quickly performed an operation to stabilize her. The girl's multiple injuries were life threatening and she needed to be immediately airlifted to Sheba Medical Center.

Kreiss is a former brigadier general who prior to assuming his position at Sheba served as the IDF's Surgeon General, was directly responsible for setting up the Israeli military field hospital along the Syrian border. He left the Bat Mitzvah celebration for a nearby airfield on the Golan Heights where a helicopter from the Air Force’s elite 669 Combat Search & Rescue Unit was summoned to fly the Syrian girl and her mother to Sheba. Kreiss checked the girl's condition in an IDF ambulance before she was placed on the helicopter and alerted Sheba's Emergency Room staff in the Edmond and Lily Safra Children's Hospital about her pending arrival.

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After a battery of tests and intensive treatments, the young girl, who is called "Malik", was moved to Sheba’s pediatric intensive care unit, where she has begun to move her limbs and is awakening from her unconscious state. The prognosis for her recovery is "good" according to Dr. Itai Pessach, Sheba's Senior Pediatric Critical Care Physician, who is tending to Malik's injuries.

"She is suffering from multiple injuries, including head and chest trauma, burns, cuts and bruises. Though she remains in critical condition, we believe that she will live but face a long road to recovery," Pessach revealed.

Malik's mother, who came with only the clothes on her back to Sheba with her daughter, has been overwhelmed by what he has seen and heard in her first experience with Israeli Jewish and Arab doctors and nurses.

"This has been an emotional journey for me, Malik and my family. I am very happy, and pleased with the way we have been treated by everyone in the hospital and with G-d's help, I will be able to bring Malik back to our family in Dara'a, where my husband is waiting for us with our son," she said.

Kreiss added, "This is not our first experience in dealing with casualties of the Syrian civil war and the way things are developing on the border, I'm afraid it won't be the last. It was an ironic twist of fate that I happened to be on the Golan Heights celebrating the happiness of a Bat Mitzvah girl last week and we hope to celebrate the rebirth of Malek's young life after our dedicated staff helps her recover. We are proud to be a hospital without borders and an oasis of peace in a turbulent region of the world."

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