At a time when rockets are being fired from the Gaza Strip at the communities of southern Israel, four young residents of Gaza are receiving treatment in northern Israel. The four children, suffering from kidney insufficiency, have been hospitalized for several months in the Children’s Hospital at Rambam Health Care Campus, where they have been receiving lifesaving therapy while awaiting kidney transplants.
Several months ago, three of the children – Mohamed and Hadeel (both 12) and Hadeel’s brother Ahmad (15) – arrived at Rambam in serious condition. Since then, they have gone from hemodialysis treatments (in which blood is cleaned via an artificial kidney) to peritoneal dialysis (administered through the abdomen). The latter therapy is given overnight, which enables patients to lead more active lives. Soon, for the first time in three years, the kids will be able to go back to school like every normal child of their age. The fourth youngster, six-month-old Lian, is still being treated with hemodialysis, which is appropriate for her medical condition.
Now that their health has improved, the three schoolchildren are due for release to their homes, Mohamed within the next few days, and siblings Hadeel and Ahmad shortly afterward. The families have recently spent time with the staff of Rambam’s Pediatric Nephrology Unit, under the direction of Prof. Israel Zelikovic, and learned how to perform peritoneal dialysis by themselves.
“Peritoneal dialysis is preferable for children because it can be performed by an automated dialysis device at the child’s home, in his natural surroundings,” Prof. Zelikovic says of the method’s advantages. “The treatment is performed at night while the child sleeps, which frees him for regular activities during the day. It also makes possible better nutrition and metabolic balance and reduces the burden on the heart and blood vessels.”
According to Mahdi Tarabia, Head Nurse of the Pediatric Nephrology Unit, who has accompanied the families during their stay at Rambam, until now it has not been possible to receive peritoneal dialysis in the West Bank and Gaza. “The hemodialysis treatment that these children were given before their arrival at Rambam was associated with medical complications, resulting in a worsening of their condition and many hospitalizations,” he explains.
“Now, these families have the skills to administer peritoneal dialysis, which represents a significant improvement in the children’s circumstances and will enable them to function almost normally.” The families will receive the equipment required for peritoneal dialysis and the solution used with it from Teva Pharmaceuticals, which will convey it to the Erez Checkpoint.
Mr. Tarabia noted the cooperation between the Pediatric Nephrology Unit at Rambam and the medical authorities in Gaza and the West Bank, who together have the children’s best interests at heart.
Over the past year, the Pediatric Nephrology Unit has cared for tens of Palestinian children from the West Bank and Gaza, who have arrived at Rambam Medical Center with various kidney diseases. The Unit, which specializes in dialysis for infants and small children, has performed more than 4,000 dialysis treatments this year.