In April 2009, a Muslim paramedic named Muawiya Kabha arrived at the scene of a car crash near Petah Tikva and found a young Jewish girl, Shachar Kugelmas, trapped in a car and already declared dead.
Something told Kabha not to give up on her, however, and against all odds to he managed to get her heart beating.
Ten years later, he shared the story at Kugelmas’ wedding.
“When I got to Shachar, she was in cardiac arrest. And per protocol, the doctor was right; we needed to declare the death. But what I felt from above is that I still need to try and save her,” Kabha related to a roomful of wedding guests and the tearful bride standing with her groom, Nir David.
United Hatzalah, the Israeli voluntary emergency-response organization that brought Kabha to the accident scene, shared a video of the paramedic telling the story. The bride’s father had invited Kabha to the wedding as a surprise for his daughter.
— United Hatzalah (@UnitedHatzalah) July 11, 2019
United Hatzalah’s neighborhood-based network of more than 5,000 volunteer medics responds to about 1,000 calls daily across Israel in three minutes or less, on average.
Kabha told the wedding guests that got there in two minutes and worked on her for 40 minutes. And although Kugelmas had a heartbeat when he left her in the care of the hospital, Kabha went home that night without much hope.
“I put my head on the pillow and thought the Angel of Death may have beaten me, but I knew that I did everything I could to try to save her. In the end, I must have done what I needed to do because look, Shachar is with us,” he said.
Kabha concluded with a thank-you to the emotional bride. “People ask me all the time, ‘How do you keep going after all the death you see in your work?’ The answer is here. Shachar, I am able to continue my work because of you. Because I saved your body, but you saved my soul.”