Rambam Physician Saves Gazan Lives via Israeli-Palestinian Cooperation
Rambam Physician Saves Gazan Lives via Israeli-Palestinian Cooperation Dr. Iyad Khamaysi, Director of the Advanced Endoscopy Unit at Rambam Health Care Center, volunteers to treat patients and train doctors in Gaza to save lives. His actions are supported by Rambam, Israel, The Palestinian Authorities, and Physicians for Human Rights. Dr. Iyad Khamaysi, father of four, Director of the Advanced Endoscopy Unit at Rambam Health Care Center with expertise in Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)—an imaging technique for examining the hepatobiliopancreatic system (bile ducts and pancreas). He is also an active volunteer in "Physicians for Human Rights," one of few courageous doctors travelling to the Gaza strip three to four times a year to provide critical treatment, medical training, and otherwise unavailable medical supplies. This year was his "fifth or sixth visit", travelling under Israeli and Palestinian Authority protection with a medical team of volunteers that included a surgeon, an orthopedist, an endocrinologist, a nephrologist, a psychologist, a neurologist and an oncologist. The trips take months to organize through official channels. Their departure is early Thursday morning, returning Friday before the noon closing at the Erez border crossing. The journey can be stressful, despite the smooth entry and exit, but once his work begins, Gaza narrows to the European Hospital at Khan Yunis, the medical team, and their patients. Dr. Khamaysi works from early afternoon through the early hours of the next day with intermittent electricity and limited supplies, treating as many patients as he safely can. A short rest in a Gaza hotel, 40 kilometers away, is followed by medical consultations over breakfast. Dr. Khamaysi describes a chronic pancreatitis patient from a previous visit to Gaza. The patient had originally been treated in Egypt and lost 99 pounds due to complications, requiring a stent to open a collapsed duct. Dr. Khamaysi performed the procedure that saved his life. Later, the healthy patient returned with his family to thank Dr. Khamaysi, who initially didn’t recognize his former patient who had so much improved. He worries how his patient will survive if there will be further complications in his absence. Some patients from Gaza enter Israel for treatment, mostly at hospitals in the center of the country. However, authorization for entry to Israel or Egypt has been more difficult recently, with special consideration being given for children. Hence, the importance of the visiting medical teams to Gaza. An important goal of Physicians for Human Rights is to strengthen the medical system in Gaza through training and supplies. Dr. Khamaysi explains, "The Palestinian doctors are incredibly frustrated. Foreign trained, they know what they need to do to help their patients, but lack the experience and the wherewithal to do so… they go online and learn what they can." In response, Dr. Khamaysi has his procedures broadcast to an adjoining room creating a teaching workshop for Gazan medical professionals. Rambam’s administration also helps to facilitate advanced training of Gazan physicians. Dr. Michael Halberthal, Deputy Director at Rambam, was instrumental in bringing Dr. Ghassan Abu Zuhri to Rambam’s Gastroenterology Institute for a six-month residency; he returned to Gaza ten days ago. Dr. Abu Zuhri is deeply grateful for the learning opportunity and continues to consult with Dr. Khamaysi on patient care, the same way Rambam physicians consult with colleagues worldwide—an example of normal professional courtesy in our troubled times. Dr. Khamaysi's family worries when he away but is proud of his integrity and commitment, as is Rambam.
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