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Jerusalem Poisoning: Five-Year-Old Victim Regains Consciousness

Brother injured in the tragic chemical poisoning case in Jerusalem regains consciousness, can now breathe normally.
By Yoni Kempinski, Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 1/29/2014, 4:28 PM

Shimon and Michal Gross speak
Shimon and Michal Gross speak
Yoni Kempinski

Five-year-old Yitzhak Gross, one of the brothers severely injured in last week's tragic poisoning in Jerusalem, has regained consciousness and is now able to breathe normally. 

Schneider Medical Center staff told the press that the boys' parents, Shimon and Michal, have not left their sons' bedsides since being hospitalized a week ago.  

Yitzhak reportedly regained consciousness for a short time on Sunday, before being sedated again to preserve his strength; he has now been fully awake and communicating with them. Yitzhak's brother Michael, 7, is reportedly in stable condition. 

Shimon and his wife Michal lost their two young daughters, 4-year-old Avigail, and 2-year-old Yael, in the poisoning. Their two sons were left in critical condition after their hearts failed.

Schneider Medical Center is one of the only hospitals in Israel known to have the ECMO machines, which are crucial for the treatment of phosphine poisoning. No known antidote exists for the poison, which is one of the same agents used in some of Syria's chemical weapons.

The tragedy last Wednesday occurred after an exterminator left the highly toxic material in the apartment's enclosed security room, also known as the "Mamad" or bomb shelter.

Apparently, the security room's seal was less effective than the storage requirements for the highly toxic chemical, and the poison spread throughout the apartment over several days.

Rescue officials at the scene were shocked to discover that the chemical's toxicity was the highest level on the spectrum. The exterminator has been arrested and an investigation has been launched. 

Parents Shimon and Michal have been both sitting shiva (the traditional seven-day Jewish mourning period) for their two girls, Yael and Avigayil (2 and 4), who were killed in the poisoning, and have been visiting the boys in the hospital.

They ask the public to continue praying for the boys' recovery; their Hebrew names are Raphael Yitzchak Isaac ben [the son of] Michal, and Chaim Michael Shlomo ben Michal.