Rambam doctors with the patient they saved
Rambam doctors with the patient they saved Piotr Fliter

Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center has plenty to be proud of these days.

Just two weeks ago, doctors at the hospital managed to revive a woman who passed away moments before an emergency procedure. Not only was she revived, the surgery was subsequently completed successfully and the woman completely recovered.

It all started when Tikiyah Hassan, 44, was brought into the hospital with a suspected rupture of the aorta. She was deemed to be in immediate danger and was prepped immediately for surgery; however, as she entered the operating room her aorta torn completely, causing blood to burst into the membrane which surrounds the heart, and essentially causing her heart to stop.

The hospital’s medical team decided not to give up and performed the surgery, all the while performing resuscitation efforts on the patient.  During the surgery she was connected to a heart-lung machine. Her aorta and aortic valve were replaced during the surgery, which lasted a total of five hours.

The surgery was a success and only a few days later, Hassan was released from the hospital in good condition.

Dr. Gil Bolotin, head of Rambam's Cardiac Surgery Department, who performed the surgery along with a team of professionals from the hospital said: "This is a high-risk surgery and a move that becomes even more complex when it comes to beginning an operation with CPR. Against all odds, we decided to continue the surgery and to my delight this decision brought her back to life and allowed her to return to her family.

"Every year about twenty aortic surgeries are performed at Rambam, half of which are emergency surgeries due to a rupture," added Dr. Bolotin. "It’s not every day that such drama occurs in the operating room, and when a case such as this ends well, it reminds us how important and amazing our job is."

This medical miracle is not the only thing which Rambam can boast about. Last week, the hospital’s surgeons performed for the first time a rare and unique procedure which combines a catheterization of the brain with brain surgery.

A 53 year-old man who was admitted to the hospital was deemed as suffering from a slight brain hemorrhage. An examination found that he had an abnormal connection within his blood vessels. When the traditional methods could not solve the issue, the doctors performed the unique procedure which involves removing the patient's skull and exposing the brain and performing a catheterization of the problematic blood vessels.

The surgery was conducted by Dr. Gil Sviri, a senior neurosurgeon, and invasive neuroradiologist Dr. Yaaqov Amsalem, who is one of only four specialists in Israel that perform intra-arterial brain catheterizations. The surgery in this case was a success as well, and the patient recovered and was released from the hospital several days later.

Dr. Sviri explained that this is the only way to treat such patients, as other methods expose patients to repeated brain hemorrhages and irreversible brain damage. “Apart from applying the combined technique, the surgery was carried using a few new accessories that improved our capabilities to perform the surgery successfully,” he said. “These operations are the result of a long cooperation between the areas of diagnosis and treatment of vascular disease of the brain. Rambam has invested many resources in this field in recent years. These patients are reaping the fruits of this investment.”

The Rambam Medical Center is located in Haifa (Israel’s third largest city) and is the largest hospital in northern Israel. Last October the hospital dedicated a new $14 million emergency facility that provides protection from missiles and chemical weapons. The new emergency room is the first stage of a plan that includes the establishment of a secure underground hospital for 1,730 patients, a children’s hospital and facilities for cancer care and for cardiac treatment, and a tower for clinical research. When completed, the complex will be more than three times larger than the previous facility. It will have the ability to treat 60 patients simultaneously.