Matters of life and death

When the regular news is full of distressing events, such as the recent terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, I try to focus my weekly positive news feature on the many life-affirming stories from Israel that barely get any attention in the international media.
Israeli scientists at Tel Aviv University stumbled onto a discovery that can help bring new life into the world.  Whilst researching the protein Interleukin-1 (IL-1), they discovered that its genetic deletion actually improves fertility.  It could help increase the effectiveness of IVF treatment.  If a baby is born prematurely and needs to be placed on a ventilation machine, Israeli medical device manufacturer, Pneumedicare, has developed a potential lifesaver.  The Pneumonitor detects the common dangerous condition pneumothorax, in which the preemie’s tiny air sacs can over-inflate and burst.  Pneumonitor’s alarm sounds an hour before any problem arises.
Staying with children, the bio-artificial pancreas, developed by Israel’s Beta-O2, can vastly improve the quality of life for sufferers of Type-1 (juvenile) diabetes.  The BetaAir delivers oxygen to newly transplanted islet cells in the body in order to produce insulin and avoid the need for regular injections.  Finally, Israel’s MediWound has commenced a Phase 3 study in around 25 sites in Europe and Israel to evaluate its innovative NexoBrid treatment for severe burns in children.  NexoBrid removes dead or damaged skin without harming viable tissue.
Many Israeli families cannot imagine life without Beit Issie Shapiro, Israel’s leading disabilities organization.  BIS is to set up the country’s first Center of Excellence for Cerebral Palsy and severe motor disabilities.  And since mobile phones are such a part of everyone’s life, Israel’s Sesame Enable is developing a smartphone for those who have limited or no use of their hands. The “Sesame Phone” can be controlled with a combination of small head movements and voice recognition.
All life is sacred to Israelis.  Quick-acting Israeli border police on routine patrol in Hebron found a Palestinian Arab youth who had been electrocuted, was unconscious and had no pulse.  They saved his life, performing CPR until the emergency services arrived.  And with the constant life-threatening risk of an Ebola virus outbreak, Israel responded to a request by the Palestinian Authority for Ebola screening tools. They will help PA officials to diagnose the virus among those entering from Jordan and also into the Gaza Strip through the Rafah Crossing.  Israel has also sent six cargo containers of specialist equipment to set up portable field hospitals for treating Ebola victims in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
Water is vital for sustaining life in Africa.  Israeli companies Waterways, Tahal and Anyways Solutions are providing water solutions in Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana. Waterways recently signed an agreement with the Water and Sanitation Organization of Africa, which links 36 African countries under its umbrella.  Israelis are also helping to save Kenyan wildlife.  Israel’s Dr Bill Clark works with the Kenya Wildlife Service to combat poaching.  He uses Israeli dog-handlers, restores old Israeli planes and trains wardens and pilots to detect and pursue poachers. He also employed Israel’s Maisha Consulting - specialists in countering environmental crime.
Among the many recent Israeli technological achievements, two Israelis took only 24 hours to develop a potentially lifesaving facility for sending messages in regions of the world where there is limited cellular reception.  The AirHop won them the $100,000 grand prize at the global hackathon competition held at PayPal’s California HQ.  And several Israeli scientists are eagerly awaiting the results of their work on the Rosetta project that could determine whether life exists on a comet millions of miles away.
Back in Jerusalem - the center of planet Earth - life goes on.  So here are some news items relating to the capital of the Jewish State.  One Jerusalem family chose to hold their baby’s life-cycle brit milah (circumcision ceremony) as planned, in the synagogue where terrorists murdered five Israelis. "Judaism is all about moving from tragedies to happy days", said the baby's grandfather.  Meanwhile, on Nov 12, the moat surrounding Jerusalem’s Tower of David, just a stone’s throw from Temple Mount, was opened to the public after 15 years of careful excavations.  It reveals centuries of Jewish life, going right back to King Hezekiah in the 8th Century BCE.
I will briefly mention that Israeli doctors have to make life and death decisions every day - such as treating a critically wounded terrorist before one of his less-injured Jerusalemite victims.  But there is good news about Rabbi Yehuda Glick, who was shot 4 times at point-blank range in the stomach, lungs, neck and arm by a terrorist in Jerusalem on Oct 29.  On his release from hospital, less than 4 weeks later, Rabbi Glick thanked the Jewish and Arab doctors at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek hospital who worked side by side to save his life.
Finally, the numbers of lives saved thanks to the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) are incalculable.  Its funding successes include 3 top cancer treatments, two major genetic discoveries and the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. In the last 12 months, the ICRF has made 94 new research grants, totaling a record $3,453,332. 
The Jewish State is for life.

Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing positive news stories about Israel.
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