Two Israeli physicians joined a mission to India to surgically repair cleft lips and cleft palates, giving hundreds of people a new reason to smile.
In Israel, the national health system ensures that any baby born with a cleft lip or cleft palate gets corrective surgery as soon as possible. But that’s not the case in many other countries, as two doctors from Haifa’s Rambam Health Care Campus discovered during a voluntary medical mission to a remote area of India under the auspices of the international medical charity Operation Smile.
“I am proud to be Israeli, because here there is no such thing as someone not getting this operation,” says Dr. Itzhak Ramon, a senior physician in the department of plastic surgery. “There, they would have to go to a private practice and most cannot afford to do that.”
Ramon and his younger colleague Dr. Zach Sharony volunteered to join a team of 50 medical personnel from around the world on the 10-day mission in December last year. The crew of plastic surgeons, dentists, anesthesiologists, pediatricians, nurses and speech therapists treated more than 200 patients from six months to 40 years old in the northeast region of Assam.
Thousands need facial surgery
Ramon explained that the incidence of these facial deformities is high in Assam - as many as 30,000 people - as a result of consanguineous marriages. The offspring of married cousins are at great risk of birth defects. “When we arrived at the local hospital, hundreds of people were already waiting,” recalls Ramon.
Staying at a hotel provided free by the owner, the Operation Smile team worked from 6:30am to 5:30pm in 10 operating rooms. Because local villagers speak a unique dialect, the professionals weren’t able to communicate easily, but they were helped by English-speaking Indian doctors. “A lot of the doctors wanted to hear about Israel,” Ramon relates. “They had heard about our ‘high-tech, startup nation.’”
Operation Smile flew in all the medical equipment from the United States on a Boeing jet along with nurses, dentists and anesthesiologists. Other personnel came from China, Australia, Norway and Colombia. It’s a long journey from Israel - a nine-hour flight to Bombay, and then another six hours and two stops till arriving in Guwahati, the capital of Assam. But Ramon felt it was worthwhile personally and professionally. “Everyone learns from each other different ways of doing things,” says Ramon. “I always bring something back with me from these missions.”
The reward of a smile
Ramon went on two Operation Smile trips to the Philippines more than a decade ago, having met the founder of the organization, Dr. Bill Magee, while on a fellowship in the United States in 1993. “Then I started a private practice and was too busy,” he relates. “This time, one of our residents [Sharony] was asked to join a mission and he was told they needed more physicians, so he suggested calling me. I was hesitant about taking the time, but my wife said, ‘Every time you went, you got such a good feeling from it, so just go.’ This time I was able to participate as an experienced doctor.”
Cleft palate surgery provides an immediate reward for both doctors and patients. “Already at the end of the procedure, patients can see results and their smiles give us tremendous motivation,” says Ramon.
Source: Ministry Of Foreign Affairs, Israel
Maccabi Tel Aviv pushed its way through to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague final on Friday night with a victory over Real Madrid 82-63.
The Israeli team is set to battle Panathinaikos on Sunday at 5:30pm, after the Greek team beat Montepaschi Siena 77-69 on Friday.
Sunday’s final will bring together Europe’s two most dominant teams in recent history, as each team plays for its sixth continental trophy. This will also be Maccabi’s seventh Euroleague final in one dozen seasons.
Though Maccabi got off to a sketchy start in Friday’s semifinal, allowing Madrid to lead early on in the game, the Israeli team battled back to a 39-32 lead at halftime.
Head Coach David Blatt displayed better tactics in the second half for dealing with Madrid’s offense.
Pargo pulled the yellow-shirted team to an 8-point lead with a spectacular slam but Madrid closed the gap to 2 and was trailing closely behind Maccabi by just 6 points late in the third quarter. But the Israeli team picked up its game soon after, widening the gap to a peak of 23 by late in the fourth quarter.
Chuck Eidson stood out in Friday’s semifinal, scoring 19 points, grabbing 8 rebounds and setting a Euroleague semifinals record with 6 steals. Other notable Maccabi players were Sofoklis Schortsanitis, who scored 16 points, Guy Pnini with 14 points, Jeremy Pargo scored 13 points with 7 assists and David Blu tallied 10.
Real Madrid’s Ante Tomic went out with an injury, but not before scoring 17 points to lead the team and Felipe Reyes added 15 points and 14 rebounds.
Following the game, Blatt said “Today we played for the audience. On Sunday we’re playing for the entire country.”