When two-year old Wallah Omar came to Rambam from Gaza with a large brain tumor, she was barely able to move. Partially paralyzed, the child’s condition was rapidly getting worse. Now, just six weeks later and post-surgery, she is laughing and playing, and getting ready to go home
Writer: Roberta Neiger, ProText
A month and a half ago, two-year old Wallah Omar arrived at Rambam from Gaza City, listless, apathetic and completely paralyzed on her left side. Her condition was rapidly deteriorating, explained her distraught father, Ayad Hamis Omar.
Wallah Omar and her father, Ayad Hamis Omar during physiotherapy at RHCC.
Wallah had been diagnosed in the Gaza Hospital as having a large tumor that was pressing on her brain. The growth had to be removed, but her parents were hesitant about performing the surgery in the small local hospital. On the advice of her oncologist, Walla’s parents opted for what the doctor termed “the first hospital on his list”, the Rambam Health Care Campus. According to the child’s father, Ayad, the oncologist had likened medical care in Israel with that in the United States. “He told me, ‘Once your daughter will be in Rambam, everything will be fine, and your family can rest assured.’ ” said Ayad.
Having decided that their daughter must get to Israel, Wallah’s parents got a letter of request from their local hospital and sent it to Rambam. Without hesitating, Director of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, Prof Myriam Ben Arush, replied: Transfer Wallah to Rambam at once. Upon her arrival at Rambam, the child had an MRI scan, which showed that the tumor had reached the size of a large orange. Director of the Pediatric Neurosurgery Unit, Dr Joseph Guilburd operated immediately, removing the entire growth.
Shortly after surgery, Wallah went home to Gaza for a week, and then returned to Rambam for a series of 30 radiation sessions, under the watchful eye of Rambam Oncologist Dr Sergey Postovsky. Now a month at the hospital, she has finished the bulk of the treatments, which will be completed within a week.
“She is recovering amazingly. She is perfect, laughing and playing,” says her relieved father, who adds that his daughter looks forward to seeing her sister, Dua, five, and brother, Ahmad, seven months old.
“I feel at home at Rambam,” continues Ayad, who used to work in an events hall in Nes Ziona, and is frequently visited at the hospital by friends, Arab and Jewish. “I like to see the way people live and work together here. The care we received at Rambam saved my daughter’s life. ”
Wallah’s story began four months ago, when she started vomiting. Her family doctor thought she had a stomach virus, which her family treated with common home remedies. The vomiting continued, and her situation was compounded by neurological problems: she was unable to move her fingers or even hold her spoon.
Today, according to Wallah’s surgeon Dr Guilburd, the girl’s chances for full recovery are very good. "To see a child who recovers so beautifully is a physician's greatest satisfaction," he says.
The Children's Hospital at Rambam provides treatment in oncology, nephrology, orthopedics, cardiology, and neurosurgery to seven hundred children from throughout the Palestinian Authority annually. In past half year Rambam has treated 200 adults and children from Gaza alone, twice the number treated during the same period last year. Of these, 25 have been pediatric oncology cases. Says Prof Ben Arush, "Our department is really a microcosm of an ideal world: Jewish, Christian and Muslim children from all countries receive the best possible care. “