It’s just a normal day at Israel’s field hospital in Nepal, still reeling after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake rocked the country on April 25. As of Tuesday night, the field hospital has treated almost 1,000 patients, delivered 7 babies — all of them healthy — and performed 50 surgeries. Its team, consists of nearly 150 medical professionals from all over Israel; and this team is made up of the best of the best that Israel has to offer.
Every day among these tents is a mixture of the heartbreaking and the hopeful.
On Tuesday morning in the Intensive Care Unit, a 37-year-old woman is fighting for her life. Trapped for four days in the rubble, one of her legs had to be amputated. “Below the knee an amputation like this is easy to treat, but this amputation was very high, and it’s very hard to manage,” said her doctor, Dr. Eli Schwartz, head of tropical medicine at our very own Sheba Medical Center and the leading Israeli in his field.
The tragedy of this case goes even deeper. The woman’s 24-year-old daughter, born after she was raped at age 13, was also badly injured by the quake. She was hospitalized nearby, but died, and the authorities came to the Israeli hospital with the news.
But despite the heaviness weighing on everyone’s minds, joy reverberates through the place when there is something to celebrate. The births get everyone cooing. And signs of recovery also bring delight.
In the course of Tuesday morning, a woman, discovered by a rescue team in a village and brought to the hospital a few days ago unable to move or talk, is suddenly both moving and talking. Alaluf Heli, a 34-year-old who had helped to look after her, was elated. “Sometimes when I’m tired and missing my children it’s really very hard, and this kind of thing helps to give me the drive to continue,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bika Rana, a 25-year-old Nepalese soldier, is sitting in a wheelchair, feeling a new sense of encouragement after learning that his injured leg is healing well. “I’m happy, and hoping that I will be able to get back to my normal life.” he said, after recounting how his house collapsed on top of him as he tried to flee the quake.
Dr. Eli Schwartz, who has the 37-year-old patient clinging to her life, said that he worries for people like her once Israel pulls out. Nepal, with its limited health infrastructure, will be overloaded, he said. “These are severe wounds that need long-term care, and we’re worried about who here has the skill to deal with people like this when we leave.”
Sheba Medical Center is invested in doing all they can for those in need.