Brian Blum
January 9, 2018, Updated January 8, 2018

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict doesn’t enter into Israeli hospitals, where patients are treated equally, regardless of citizenship, religion or ethnicity.

That’s how Yusef Rabaya, a 19-year-old from Jenin, located in the Palestinian Authority territories, received a revolutionary treatment in Israel that has transformed his life and got him walking again for the first time in nearly a year.

Rabaya was born with cerebral palsy and a neuromuscular kyphosis – a curve from the front to the back of his body that looks like a hump.

When Rabaya hit his teens, the curve became so pronounced that he could no longer stand and was in terrible pain. His parents searched for a cure in Europe, to no avail.

Yusef Rabaya back on his feet. Photo courtesy of Hadassah Medical Organization

Finally, the family made a connection in Boston where surgery was performed to implant rods into his back to strengthen his spine. But the rods broke and Rabaya was now confined to bed in even worse pain.

The solution to Rabaya’s misery turned out to be not in Europe or Boston, but right here in Israel.

Dr. Josh Schroeder, a senior surgeon and spine specialist at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center, performed four-hour reconstruction surgery.

It was not easy.

“We needed equipment that is not used in Israel, because the technique and equipment for its implementation are used almost exclusively in the United States,” Schroeder explained.

Four boxes of rods and screws developed by a surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York were dispatched to Jerusalem. The broken rods were removed, new implants were anchored to Rabaya’s vertebrae, and the spinal deformity corrected.

As a result of the surgery, Rabaya can stand again. He is now beginning physical therapy to build up the muscles that deteriorated during the time he couldn’t get out of bed.

Rabaya’s father, Iyad, praised Schroeder and the Hadassah team “who saved my son.”

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