Staff in Rambam’s General Intensive Care Unit are used to caring for patients with the most severe, life-threatening conditions. Frequently, they also see these same patients on their path to recovery. But a short time ago, the excitement in the unit was particularly contagious—Natalie Ben-Moshe, one of the most seriously injured people in the horrific Carmel Tunnel bus crash, returned to Rambam with her parents to visit the medical team that saved her life.
The ghastly crash occurred on April 21, 2016 in the Carmel Tunnels in Haifa, when a bus swerved and collided forcefully with the tunnel wall. Fifty-four passengers were injured, more than ten of them seriously, and one seventeen-year-old girl was killed. One passenger, twenty-five year-old Natalie Ben-Moshe, was rushed to Rambam with life-threatening traumatic head and systemic injuries.
Natalie underwent a complex cranial operation the same day, after which she was transferred to the General Intensive Care Unit where she stayed for three months while the healthcare team battled for her life. “This is one case forever engraved in our brains,” recalled Dr. Yaron Barlavie, Chairman of the Division of Critical Care Medicine. “She had serious, complex injuries and was operated on many times. Her life-threatening condition persisted over a long period of time. The staff did everything possible to save her life. Her parents put all their faith in us. Eventually, when she left the hospital, she was completely out of danger.”
After a months-long hospitalization, Ben-Moshe was released to a rehabilitation facility, where she faced the challenge of hard work for an extended time. In fact, she is still in the recovery process with other care providers. While in rehabilitation, she heard about the medical team that saved her life while she lay unconscious in the hospital. She vowed that one day, when she could stand on her own two feet, she would return to the hospital to personally thank them.
At last, the day arrived when Ben-Moshe, with her parents, came to Rambam and met the people behind all the stories she was told. “I heard so many things about what happened from my family and friends. This made me really appreciate them,” she said. “I wanted to say thank you, in my own way, to everyone who helped me. It was very important for me to wait for the right moment. My visit with Dr. Barlavie was the most emotional. He told me that doctors derive strength from these encounters with their former patients. When I looked at him, it was as if I was looking at my father. I saw that his concern for me was real—from his heart.”
Ben-Moshe’s father, Yossi Ben-Moshe, said, “We are religious people and know that help comes from God. Dr. Barlavie and the hospital staff who treated her, as well as those still taking care of her, are God’s messengers, angels from Heaven who provide care with dedication, professionalism, courtesy, and kindness. Although we waited a long time for this meeting with you, it wasn’t easy coming back here. We are having flashbacks from very difficult time in our lives; uninvited memories pop up. However, it was still important for us to return and say thanks to each of you. We don’t have the words to express what we feel. To experience what we went through, and afterwards to speak about it, are two very different things. We will never forget you.”