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Breaking the Circle of Hatred

Dr. Salah Odatallah

 

Michal Halevi miraculously survived after being gravely wounded in a terrorist attack perpetrated by a Palestinian.
A Palestinian physician was among those who saved her life.

 

I am a Palestinian physician. I was born in Jerusalem in 1958. I have worked as a senior anesthesiologist at Shaare Zedek Medical Center since 1990, when I finished my residency program at the same hospital. During the years 1993-1998 I served as co-director of the Intensive Care Unit.

Michal Halevi and her newborn baby at Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Photo by Eliyahu Schifman, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, PR department

 

On February 25th, 1996, Michal Halevi, a 19 year old soldier, was traveling on a Jerusalem bus when a massive bomb, detonated by a terrorist, almost ended her life. When she arrived by ambulance at our hospital, she was immediately taken to the operating room without pulse or respiration. Her chest was immediately opened and multiple ruptures of both lungs were diagnosed. The operation lasted several hours and she received more than 30 units of blood.

 

At some time during the operation, I was informed that her bed in the Intensive Care Unit would no longer be needed because her chance for survival was nil. Shortly thereafter, the surgeons and the anesthesiologists realized the return of blood pressure and pulse and their optimism returned. 

Michal was then transferred to the Intensive Care Unit. On her arrival in our unit, her position was critical to say the least. Her chest was still open, with very low blood pressure, pulse and very low oxygenation. Nobody believed that Michal would survive the following few hours.

 

The staff never lost hope and fought to save Michal’s life. Michal underwent several surgical interventions during her stay in the Intensive Care Unit.

 

After a month, she finally opened her eyes, but was still hospitalized in our unit for the following four months. She was discharged with paraplegia to the Rehabilitation Unit at Hadassah Mount Scopus Hospital.

 

One month later, Michal could walk with minimal assistance. Our relations were never disconnected and two years later she got married and I was invited, together with the former President of Israel, Mr. Ezer Weitzman, to the wedding. It was a miracle!

 

Seven months ago, Michal came to the hospital to tell me that she was pregnant. She also said that she would be very honored and happy for me to be with her and to be her anesthesiologist at the time of delivery.

 

The expected date of delivery was, February 25th, 2003 (the same date when she was injured 7 years ago). I had intended to participate in a medical congress in South Africa but I cancelled my participation in order to be with her at that time.

 

On March 2nd, 2003, Michal gave birth by caesarian section to a very nice girl and I was her anesthesiologist. The anesthetic technique was a spinal one. Michal was awake and saw her child immediately after the delivery.

 

I held the baby with my own hands and I said what an incredible miracle this was – the circle was closed. Tears were in my eyes.

 

Michal was injured by one of the Palestinian people and a Palestinian physician saved her life together with other physicians.

 

In conclusion, the two peoples who are living here can do it better, and they have to learn how to live together.

 

Dr. Salah Odatallah, Senior Anesthesiologist

Department of Anesthesia and Intensive Care

Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem