Michael Landau, a 104-year-old resident of Haifa, is one of the oldest people in the country – if not the world – to receive a pacemaker.
Michael Landau, a 104-year-old Haifa resident, has accomplished quite a bit in his life. He built a life in Israel after immigrating from Warsaw, Poland, in 1936. He set up a home and raised a family – two children, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren, and had a long and fascinating career as a road engineer for the Haifa Municipality. Recently, he achieved another milestone; Landau is probably one of the oldest people in the country—and in the world—who have has successfully undergone a pacemaker implantation.
The unconventional surgery was successfully performed in the cardiac catheterization room at Rambam Health Care Campus. Landau was hospitalized in the Department of Internal Medicine B and released to his home a day later, feeling good.
“Last Saturday, our entire family was sitting together around the dinner table,” Landau recalls. “Children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren… Suddenly, I made a bit of a scene for them,” he adds with a smile. “He passed out for a few minutes,” explains Martha, his 90-year-old wife who hasn’t left his side.
Landau said the same incident had occurred several times in recent months, and when he arrived at Rambam’s Department of Emergency Medicine, he was told that he suffered from an irregular heartbeat. To correct the problem would require implantation of a pacemaker – a device designed to monitor and regulate heart rate as needed. “I didn't think I needed it. It seemed like an unnecessary surgery. I thought I was a great hero,” Landau explained. “But this time, I admit that I was a little stressed and decided I was too young to embark on the last trip of my life,” he jokes. “This has happened the several times and we were very worried,” Martha says of the decision to undergo the procedure, adding, “I thought it could extend his life, and it is important to me that he has a good life.” In response, Landau says of his wife of 40 years, “I did it for her!”
The staff in Rambam’s Electrophysiology Unit routinely perform pacemaker implantations, but the patient's unusual profile made the case particularly interesting. The sensitive procedure was performed by Professor Mahmoud Suleiman, a senior physician in the Department of Cardiology and a specialist in clinical electrophysiology. “Because his physical condition is relatively good for his age, we have actually treated him like every patient,” says Professor Suleiman. “Although aging increases the risk of complications, the surgery was successful and we wish our patient a long, healthy life.” Professor Suleiman notes that in recent years, the average age of patients has risen along with the increase in life expectancy and the desire to maintain quality of life, even at more advanced ages.
Just before Landau was released from the hospital, he recalled an anecdote related to the building in which he was hospitalized. “In 1938, I was at the inauguration ceremony of Rambam’s Mendelsohn Building as the city's representative. The British inaugurated this building as the new government hospital in Haifa; now, 82 years later, I'm being treated here. I am grateful to everyone, from the doctor who convinced me to undergo the surgery, through to the doctor who performed it and the department staff who are currently monitoring me. I feel great,” he proclaims. “I’m not giving up on the next goal – to reach the age of 120. Why not stay alive, as long as there are reasons to do so,” he concludes, smiling as he looks lovingly at his wife.