Dozens of Syrian Casualties have been treated since the beginning of the fighting in Syria, in Western Galilee Medical Center, Nahariya. Since the first Syrian casualty arrived in March 2013, there has been a steady flow of seriously injured patients seeking care in the hospital.


The Western Galilee Medical Center has become a main treatment center to dozens of Syrian’s who have been treated throughout the various departments and units in recent weeks, some casualties having arrived after suffering what otherwise might have been particularly fatal wounds if left untreated in amidst the Syrian violence. After a series of difficult surgeries, physicians of the ENT Department were able to save a young man of just 23 years old, who had been unable to eat due to his difficult injuries. Pediatric Intensive Care Unit is seeing the return to health of a13 year old girl who had suffered serious injuries to her head, face, hands and leg.


The civil unrest in Syria has already claimed the lives of over 100,000 and injured another several hundred thousand. In turn, the IDF has looked to Nahariya Medical Center to provide treatment to the victims of this sweeping violence. Since the most recent wave of hostilities, the medical center has treated nearly 60 casualties, the youngest victim just 10 months old.

Dr. Masad Barhoum, Director General reiterated, "We do not differentiate between any person who seeks care in our medical center. Every patient entering the gates of the hospital is first and foremost a person in need, and we have both the professional duty and moral obligation to provide the best medical care possible. Our hospital has a long history of treating others through the cooperation of humanitarian aid efforts. I am proud to lead such and institution that is part of a healthcare system that values all lives. For us, this work is sacred.”


The injured who arrive to the medical center have suffered mostly gunshot or shrapnel wounds from explosive devices and other serious traumas. Casualties have been treated in Neurosurgery, Surgical Department’s 1&2, Orthopedics 1&2, the Intensive Care Unit, the Department of ENT, Head and Neck Surgery, Plastic Surgery and it’s attached Burns Unit, Ophthalmology and Pediatric Intensive Care. Two of the injured died in the Shock Room shortly after their transfer to the hospital while many dozens of others were stabilized, treated and successfully released from hospital.

Among the wounded being treated is “A,” age 23 who was in critical condition as a result of his gunshot wounds to the face. His treatment combined the ENT Department with the Head and Neck Surgery Unit to repair the nearly fatal damage that he had suffered.


Dr. Eyal Sela, Department Director: "Upon arrival we conducted a series of tests in which it was found that the young man had suffered a broken jaw and teeth, the entrance wound was infected, there was only debris left by missing tissue from the oral cavity and neck wound which prohibited him from eating. The remains of his injury left but fragments. He underwent several difficult surgeries to restore his jaw and close the close the wound to his neck with the replacement of skin and muscle. He recovered quickly and within a few weeks has healed. He faces a long road to recovery and rehabilitation, but I have no doubt that he will have this chance as quick treatment will allow him to continue towards rehabilitation.”

 

"Suddenly, fire opened around me form all directions. I was hit and fell to the ground. One of my friends dragged me into the building and started to treat me.  During his attempts to save me, I heard the fire continues and grow until it became quiet. Later, I came to a clinic that told me I had suffered severe damage to my mouth and jaw and may never be able to eat normally again," said the young patient. This prognosis was a death sentence. 

After reaching the Western Galilee Medical Center, undergoing extensive imaging diagnostics and multiple complex procedures, his condition  improved significantly. "I am grateful to the nurses, they have treated me kindly without the feeling that I was from a foreign land. Everything I have needed they have given me, they have made sure I have rested and even brought me chocolate after I had not tasted food in so long. In Syria, Israel is portrayed as an enemy, but nobody knows that your doctors and nurses and all the people around are acting out of humanity and professionalism. I'm waiting to return home to Syria and tell my family we have a partner. I believe there will be peace between Israel and Syria in the near future, God willing."

Just one building away lays a girl of just 13 years old in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit who was brought in very serious condition who has already undergone a series of complex surgeries to her face, hands and leg.

Director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Dr. Zeev Zonis, states "The girl has undergone several surgeries that were not simple but we are happy to see a satisfactory return to recovery. There is simply no other road to health.” The medical center’s trained social workers and educational staff arrive daily to assist her in her full recovery while the hospital’s medical clowns have become frequent visitors to her bedside as well.


"I do not remember much of what happened. I was at the supermarket in the village with my brothers and suddenly a missile fell not far from us. There was a loud boom; I flew away and lost consciousness. When I woke up I was already here in the ward and after a few hours I realized that I was in Israel. I do not know who treated me and how I got here. Everyone worried about me and is helping me but I miss my parents and siblings, friends and my country. These doctors saved my life; if I was not cared for, I would not be alive right now.”


Two days after arriving in Israel from Syria the young girl was joined at the medical center for her aunt who serves as her custodian. "The doctors here are angels, what they do for her and the other patients we do not take it for granted. This is a great blessing.  Thankfully my niece is returning to herself slowly, we see improvement every day. I would never believe that a foreign country would treat us this way. I do not have contact with my family in Syria and only hear news reports about fighting. I hope that she will recover soon and that things will get better, we are waiting to return to our homeland."

 

To date, nearly 150 Syrians have sought life saving medical treatment in the Western Galilee Medical Center. “This number is just a modest drop in the ocean,” states Dr. Barhoum, “But to save even one life, for us, this is to save an entire world.”