Saar in the hospital
Saar in the hospitalHadassah Spokesperson's Office

When the sirens went off in central Israel on Saturday at the start of the war, Saar (27) began packing a bag before he was called up for reserve duty. He equipped himself, put on his uniform, and arrived at one of the training bases in the south.

"We trained for several weeks, and when the ground incursion began, my team and I from the 12th Brigade entered the northern Gaza Strip," he recalled.

Saar fought with other soldiers from the brigade, encountering dozens of terrorists. He explained, "The team and I fought while around us were tanks and helicopters. It was an atmosphere of war and everything that it entails, I was very vigilant throughout the mission."

In an area very crowded with buildings, Saar and the other soldiers reached a particular building controlled by Hamas.

"We arrived at the building. We understood that this was a place where Hamas terrorists were staying. Suddenly, a missile was fired at us, right in my direction. I jumped to the side to save myself," he said.

Saar was seriously injured in this incident, with shrapnel sustained in four limbs and a lot of blood loss. He was evacuated under fire: "I was wounded in both arms and both legs. They put five tourniquets on me to stop the bleeding and evacuated me by helicopter to Hadassah Ein Kerem."

Saar arrived at the trauma unit at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in serious condition, anesthetized and on a ventilator, and the team that received him immediately began to take action to stabilize his condition.

He underwent two orthopedic surgeries to treat injuries to his hands and legs. Dr. Madi El-Haj, who operated on Saar, described: "Saar arrived in serious condition with significant shrapnel wounds to his arms and legs. The injuries included open wounds, open wrist fractures, and tendon tears." In the surgeries, doctors repaired the damaged tendons, cleaned the open wounds from shrapnel, and set the fractures. "Some of the shrapnel was very close to the nerves, and we surgically removed them successfully, without nerve damage," said Dr. El-Haj.

After his hospitalization in the orthopedic department at Hadassah Ein Kerem, Saar moved to the rehabilitation department at Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus, where many of those wounded in war undergo the long and challenging process of returning to life as they knew it before the injury, with a multidisciplinary professional team.

Saar explained that the rehabilitation process is not as simple as he thought, and it is definitely a journey he embarked on with determination: "I thought that after the injury, I would give myself a few days to heal and then go back to fight with my friends," he said. "I want to go back to fighting in the field, but now I understand that this is, first and foremost, my battle for myself to return to full functioning."

Hagit Gal, an occupational therapist in the rehabilitation department at Hadassah Mount Scopus, who treats Saar, described: "Saar arrived with severe injuries to all four limbs, and because of the limitations of the injury, we worked according to an organized protocol, so as not to cause further damage to the muscles or tendons."

At the beginning of the rehabilitation process, Saar was limited in movement. Still, with his training and perseverance, he can already do things he could not do before: "I can already drive, which is a dream. I feel a real improvement when it comes to the movement of my arms and legs, and it gives me a sense of relief that there is light at the end of the tunnel," he said.

While hospitalized in the rehabilitation department on Mount Scopus, Saar undergoes occupational therapy to strengthen hand function and physical therapy treatments due to leg injuries. Hagit spoke about how Saar and other patients cope with their physical limitations and the expectation of a speedy recovery: "The real coping here is the gap between the patient's expectation that the process will be short and fast and the real process, which is slow and often restrictive, so as not to create additional damage. The physical limitations that the injury leaves with it cause the patient to depend on others, and it is tough to cope with, for an adult who was independent and healthy."

Alongside the challenges, Saar has experienced a significant improvement in functioning and is already looking forward to returning to fighting.

"From the beginning of the rehabilitation process until now, there has been a real improvement in my functioning. I want to keep improving to get back and fight with my friends and win," he said.