Wearing a white dress, white shoes, and a little silver crown, “B” was the guest of honor at a farewell party celebrating her discharge seven months after she first arrived at the Ruth Rappaport Children’s Hospital in Rambam Health Care Campus.
B had arrived in early February 2016 at the Haifa medical center, after suffering injuries in her country’s civil war. While at the hospital, Israeli doctors found that she also had a hematological disease.
With help from the Israeli government, B’s medical team managed to reach the little girl’s relatives in Syria and bring back blood samples from several family members. Her brother was a perfect match.
“I’ll never forget when they first brought in those test tubes, discreetly wrapped in dish towels,” says Iris Porat, one of the nurses who cared for “B” throughout her hospitalization.
The government granted special permission for B’s brother to cross the border from Syria and be brought to Rambam. It took two weeks to complete the bone marrow donation, after which he returned home while B and her mother remained in the Pediatric Oncology Department to see if the transplant had succeeded.
Rambam Health Care Campus has treated 140 Syrian civilians, men, women and children over the past three years.
“I would lie if I said that I expected the kind of humanity I discovered here.” — Mother of six-year-old Syrian cancer survivor
Seven months after the six-year-old girl first arrived in Haifa, she celebrated her healthy discharge with the medical staff and volunteers who cared for her along the way.
The smiling girl, who confided that she dreams of one day becoming a fashion designer, entered a room with tables of cakes and gifts, the sound of clapping, and the drumming of traditional Arab darbuka drums. A slideshow of photos from her time at Rambam was shown, and Ashwak El-rabia, an Arab non-profit that assists children with cancer, gave her a tablet in which she could store her memories. The group also gave her a backpack for her first year of school.
Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Druze medical staff read parting messages in Arabic.
The little girl’s mother also had a message for their Israeli caregivers: “I would lie if I said that I expected the kind of humanity I discovered here. I am grateful for your care and sensitivity; may God protect you. And we will always remember what you did for us.”