TEL AVIV – A six-year-old Syrian girl who was successfully treated for a hematological blood disease at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center was discharged on Tuesday and sent back to Syria after an emotional farewell party at the hospital was held in her honor.
“B”, the name given for the girl whose identity was not released due to security concerns, wore a white dress and a silver crown at her party which was attended by the entire department, comprising Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Druze doctors and personnel.
140 Syrian men, women, and children have received treatment at the hospital since the outbreak of the civil war.
“B” arrived at the hospital early February suffering from wounds as a result of the war. While she was being treated for her injuries, doctors discovered the blood disease and decided to give her a bone marrow transplant.
But finding a bone marrow donor match is much more complicated for someone whose relatives are not in the country.
For that reason, the Israeli government stepped in to help “B”’s medical team, led by Dr. Irena Zeidman and Dr. Ayelet Ben-Barak.
After reaching out to the child’s relatives in Syria, they managed to bring back blood samples from several family members to test if they were potential donors.
“I’ll never forget when they first brought in those test tubes, discreetly wrapped in dish towels,” recalls Iris Porat, one of the nurses who cared for “B” throughout her hospitalization.
Fortunately, “B”’s brother was a perfect match.
Israeli authorities facilitated the border crossing for “B”’s brother.
After the transplant, “B” and her mother remained at the hospital an additional two weeks in order to check if the transplant had succeeded.
In all, they spent six months in an ostensibly “enemy state.”
Grace Yaakov, a social worker in the pediatric oncology department, created a support system for the two by bringing in non-profits from the Arab sector, as well as visitors.
Parents of other Jewish and Arab patients in the ward also came to visit the mother and her daughter.
“B” was given an abundance of clothing, gifts, books, games, food, and anything people could think of to make her stay more comfortable.
Doctors said the girl’s bubbly, inquisitive personality captured everyone’s heart. She even donned a fancy dress costume on the Jewish festival of Purim and always spoke of her dreams of becoming a fashion designer.
After being showered with parting gifts at her party – including a tablet to store photos of her new Israeli family – her mother addressed the crowd in a very quiet voice, saying, “I would lie if I said that I expected the kind of humanity I discovered here. I am grateful for your care and sensitivity; may God protect you. And we will always remember what you did for us.”