Brought to you courtesy of Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.
Abed and his wife Tamam from Kfar Kassam, 12 miles east of Tel Aviv, were newlyweds and delighted when she became pregnant with a girl. Then, in a routine ultrasound, the doctor saw a major problem. “It can’t be fixed,” their local doctor told them. Better to abort.
Said Abed: “We were devastated. The doctors we saw in other big centers also recommended an abortion. While we were absorbing this news, we happened to see a TV program about a baby with a similar problem who had been saved at Hadassah Hospital. We drove to Jerusalem. Dr. Dan Arbell, a pediatric surgeon, showed us photos of children with worse conditions who were now preteens and doing fine. It turns out that our baby was not in such desperate straits as the doctors had said. He gave us hope.”
Dr. Arbell, told them that Hadassah was willing to see them through the pregnancy and operate immediately after birth on their daughter.
A month before Tamam was due to give birth, they came for a check-up in Jerusalem. At the exam, the staff determined that the baby needed to be delivered immediately. 17 hours after her birth, she underwent surgery.
Ibtihaj had a rare defect called omphalocele in which the intestines, liver, and occasionally other organs remain outside of the abdomen in a sac because of a defect in the development of the muscles of the abdominal wall. Dr. Arbell and his team of surgeons succeeded in putting the organs back in place.
“The real challenge is the 2 inch hole in the abdomen,” said Dr. Arbell. “Sometimes the hole can’t be closed at the time of the initial surgery, and frequently numerous surgeries are required. We decided to make use of a plastic surgery patch called TopClosure invented in Israel by Israeli surgeon Dr. Morris Topaz, but never used on a newborn. TopClosure works by first stretching out the skin around the wound to avoid the need for skin grafts, and second by ensuring that the wound scars in an aesthetic and healthy fashion.
“We asked Dr. Topaz to join us for the surgery because we wanted to see if his invention would nurture the baby’s skin to close by itself. It worked! We are delighted, and optimistic that future surgery won’t be necessary. We are known for being willing to try to save babies whom some think are best aborted. Hence, we get three to five babies a year with serious disorders like this one. We’ll be further pioneering the use of this terrific Israeli invention.”
Said Ibtihaj’s Dad: Thank you isn’t a big enough word to express how we feel about the staff at Hadassah! You have saved our little girl and brought joy to us, our families and our whole community.”
The happy couple went home with their beautiful baby last week.