The hospital without borders...

Amid the glitz and glamour of Sheba Medical Center’s 70th anniversary gala event, donors and doctors gathered to celebrate the hospital’s rich history of healing the protectors of the state.

(LEFT TO right) Vered Grinboim, chairwoman, Israel Friends of Sheba; Sheba director-general Yitshak Kreiss and his wife, Inbal; the chairwoman of Sheba’s Circle of Friends and her husband, Galia and Yehoshua Maor. (photo credit: AVI HOFI AND RAFI DELOUYA)
(LEFT TO right) Vered Grinboim, chairwoman, Israel Friends of Sheba; Sheba director-general Yitshak Kreiss and his wife, Inbal; the chairwoman of Sheba’s Circle of Friends and her husband, Galia and Yehoshua Maor.
Large balloon-like light fixtures emblazoned with the Sheba Medical Center logo illuminated a charcoal pathway leading to the hottest event of the year. It was an impressive and fitting first impression for a big birthday bash that brought together dignitaries, philanthropists and businesspeople from around the world who gathered for one singular cause: to celebrate seven decades of Sheba’s unprecedented success.
The two themes of the evening were celebrating the hospital’s familial spirit where everyone – patients and doctors alike – is treated as part of the mishpaha, and innovation.
“Every year here feels like a holiday, but the 70th year is a special one,” Sheba Medical Center director-general Prof. Yitshak Kreiss told the more than 1,100 guests who came to the event. “This is a good opportunity to reflect on what we’ve done so far, not to summarize achievements, but plan ahead for the future.”
And for a hospital born as Tel Hashomer alongside the state, the two have grown together side by side for the last seven decades.
President Reuven Rivlin, who met with Sheba representatives and donors last week at Beit Hanassi, agreed, saying, “The story of Sheba is deeply connected to the history and story of the State of Israel. Your hospital and the medical team are an integral part of the Zionist vision and are the living proof of its success.”
“Sheba is the crown jewel of medical innovation here in Israel,” Kreiss added.
He attributed this to what he referred to as the “Sheba Spirit” – a winning combination that, with a can-do positive attitude, honors tradition while having a clear vision for a robust and advanced future.
“We don’t wait, we act,” Kreiss said. “With chutzpah, humanity and fortitude.
This is the Sheba spirit that is passed from generation to generation.”
As the son of a Sheba doctor and the scientifc director of its Innovation Center, Prof. Robert Klempfner embodies these aspects.
“My mother was a physician for 30 years at Sheba; as a child I walked these halls often,” Klempfner, who also serves as the director of the hospital’s Center for Cardiovascular Research, mused.
Klempfner focuses on wearable technology – devices that from an ocean away can help monitor and treat patients remotely. “We use augmented technology to enhance the lives of our patients to ensure that no matter where they are in the world, they can continue to receive state-of-the art treatment from Sheba from the comfort of their home.”
The night’s event drew donors from all over the world who marveled at what the hospital has accomplished.
“I’m passionate because it’s the largest hospital in the Middle East. They don’t discriminate, they take care of everyone in need. This is very important to world peace and I believe it’s important to dedicate my time to something of this magnitude,” said Helene Boston, a donor from Los Angeles, who along with her partner Benny Boston has contributed much to the hospital over the years.
Sheba, though, originated as a military hospital (Army Hospital No. 5 became Tel Hashomer in 1948) and has not forgotten its roots. It seems that anyone who served in the IDF crossed paths with the hospital at some point. Even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had frequent encounters with the nation’s largest hospital. In fact, the night’s gala raised over NIS 5 million toward a new emergency rehabilitation center for soldiers.
“From personal experience, I know the importance of what you do,” Netanyahu said via a pre-recorded speech broadcast during the night’s ceremony.
“When I was in basic training, I had a lung infection and was brought here.
Later, when I was injured during the Sabena Airlines hostage rescue mission, I was brought to here again. There were other moments in my life, some tragedies were I had to say goodbye to dear friends and that was here, too. Tel HashomerSheba has cared for IDF soldiers for countless years and I know your dedication to this cause. I would like to thank you personally and on behalf of the IDF and the State of Israel for the great work you do.”
However, a hospital’s greatness can only be measured by its ability to stay ahead of the curve and employ cutting-edge technology. It is that spirit of innovation that influenced Dr. Roni Sharon to stay in Israel and make aliya after serving in the IDF as a lone-soldier combat physician.
“I was supposed to go back to New York City, but was offered to lead Israel’s frst headache and facial pain center. This is a beautiful hospital. I trained at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and at Harvard University. Sheba can compete with them in terms of quality of doctors and care. It’s truly incredible,” Sharon, a Boston native who practices neurology, pain and headache medicine at the hospital, said.
But, of course, after champagne was sipped and hors d’oeuvres devoured, what made a lasting impression that evening was hearing from patients whose very lives were changed because of Sheba’s dedicated team of doctors and nurses.
“I came to Sheba during Operation Protective Edge – the most difficult time of my life. I was badly injured, shot in the spine, and was rushed here via helicopter. The nurse who frst saw me said, ‘Everything will be okay,’” Maj. Ran Ben Atia recalled.
“I will never forget that.”
His situation was dire – when doctors examined the nature of his wound, they realized there was a chance the bullet could explode inside and kill him instantly.
The doctors had to operate on him using the most archaic methods available, for fear any electricity or technology might trigger the bullet.
But his journey to recovery didn’t stop there. Ben Atia went through months of grueling physical and hydrotherapy with one singular goal in mind: Participate in the Iron Man competition and greet his wife and newborn child as he crossed the fnish line.
Last summer, against all odds, Ben Atia achieved his goal.
“Since then, every day I choose to celebrate life. Without Sheba, and its amazing team, I wouldn’t have crossed the fnish line and I probably wouldn’t even be here today,” he said.
This article was written in cooperation with Sheba Medical Center.