“IN ISRAEL, A PALESTINIAN IS A DIRECTOR OF A KIDNEY TRANSPLANT SERVICE”

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…More than a Hospital Building Bridges to Peace Surgery Transplant Surgery

Published By AJN on September 3, 2018

Dr. Abed Khalaileh is director of the Kidney Transplant Service of the Department of General Surgery, at the Hadassah Hospital.
Of Palestinian origin, he was born in Jerusalem, in a family of seven brothers. After a brief stint in engineering, he decided to study medicine and traveled to Stalingrad to receive his first degree. After his experience abroad, he returned to the country and began his medical career at Hadassah in 2002, where he began his specialty in surgery. He traveled to France to learn about interventions in liver and kidney transplants, and later in Turkey he did advanced studies in transplants, while working as a principal doctor at Hadassah. Years later he finished his doctorate at the Hebrew University in Evolutionary Biology, specializing in the genetic cycles of pancreatic cancer. He recently started his new position as director in the Kidney Transplant Service of the hospital.

“The Hadassah hospital is like a Noah’s Ark, because Arabs, Jews and Christians are seen here. We have people coming from the Palestinian territories — from Tulkarem, Ramallah, Hebron, and Kalkilia. We teach them, and if they have difficulties in their area we go and help them.”

In addition, he stated “if someone from the Palestinian people wants to create a state today, he must realise that the road to a state lies not through accusing others, but by learning from the best. It does not matter if it’s from a Jew from America, or France or from San Pablo. In the world of medicine and in the Palestinian territories, people know what Hadassah is. The policy is left aside. They do not think that there are only Jews here. They know that here they come and will receive medical care without borders. Here you look at the patient as a human being.”

“I see how my colleagues fight to save each patient, no matter where he comes from, what he did, who his family is. And not for political reasons, but because all human beings deserve the best possible medical attention.”

-What is the highlight of Hadassah’s transplant service?

-In terms of transplants, unique things happen in Hadassah. Today in Israel, and mainly in the hospital where I work, there is what is called ‘altruism’. A donor goes to the medical center voluntarily, without knowing who receives the organ, and donates it. There are not many countries in the world where this happens. Ever since Rabbi Yeshayahu Heber, who was once hospitalised by dialysis, created the Gift of Life Association, donors have given 400 kidneys through campaigns. Most come from the religious population, with a lot of faith. At Hadassah we have a kidney transplant every week. That is something very special that happens here.

-What changes do you see in the last ten years?

-As a transplant unit, we are growing significantly. In the last two years, the number of transplants increased by 400 percent, as well as liver interventions. However, in the past few years, the Hadassah hospital has had to overcome some financial problems.

-How do you see the hospital in the near future?

-I’m sure that in the next ten years Hadassah, which was the first hospital in Israel, will be one of the leading medical centres in the country. For the past two years, we have a new CEO, Zeev Rotstein. I think he’s going to take the hospital to another level. I trust in his leadership ability and that he will put the Hadassah back on the right track.

– How is the daily work in a medical center linked to the university?

– Something special about Hadassah is that all the team that works here has a vision of both clinical work and research. It is not enough that you are good at your job, all the time you must think and bring new ideas. Everything starts in the laboratories, and if your research passed the tests in the different stages, the medical innovations reach the patients. Anyone who does not write and does not publish research periodically, does not advance in the field of medicine, and cannot last long here. In this hospital all the time, you must go one step further and seek recognition from the world medical community. It is not enough to take care of patients. I have to be part of commissions, to give classes in universities … This morning I performed an operation, and as soon as I left the operating room, I started writing an article.

Who are the patients who are treated at Hadassah?

-The Hadassah hospital is like a Noah’s Ark, because Arabs, Jews and Christians are seen here. We have people coming from the Palestinian territories from Tulkarem, Ramallah, Hebron, Kalkilia that we teach, and if they have difficulties in their area we go and help them. There is a hospital that is not far from here named Augusta Victoria, where there is almost no Israeli population. The majority of patients are from Gaza, or from the Palestinian Authority. Sometimes we go and try to help as much as we can.

– How is the cooperation with the hospitals of the Palestinian Authority?

-There are patients in serious condition that only a hospital like ours can attend. In each of the departments, 15 percent of our patients come from the Palestinian Authority. Sometimes, due to the seriousness of the situation of some patients, doctors do not know what to do and thanks to the cooperation with Hadassah, a solution can always be found for each patient.

– How do the Palestinians see the work that is done here?

-They do not see us as traitors. In what is now the State of Israel before its creation, there were not all the intelligent people, nor all the hospitals that we have today. The intelligent and brilliant Jews were all over the world, they acquired all the possible knowledge and they are the ones who then created everything. If someone from the Palestinian people wants to create a state today, they should think that the road is not by accusing others, but by learning from the best. It does not matter if it’s from a Jew, an American, or someone from France or from San Pablo. In the world of medicine and in the Palestinian territories, people know what Hadassah is. The politics is left aside. They do not think that there are only Jews here. They know that they can come here and will receive medical care without borders. Here the patient is seen as a human being.

-What is your view of the current situation with the Palestinian people?

-I believe that part of the thinking process and behavior of each person originates from the environment in which he lives. I believe that if a person is granted good conditions and freedom, and if you are their friend, it does not matter who you are. If you do not harm him, he will be good to you. The moment that you take his freedom or something that is important to him, there will be conflict. I see in the territories a failure to create a continuous communication with the State of Israel, but I also see that in Ramallah hospitals are built, and there are people who succeed. But it is still a state without resources. You can take the best doctors and build hospitals, but there is no agriculture, and nothing is produced. Therefore, you cannot generate funds like other countries, and must remain dependent. Palestinians who live within Israeli territory in some way or another are integrated, and live and work with Israeli society.


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