News and Events

Rambam Patient Saved Against All Odds

Publication Date: 5/18/2023 11:00 AM

Sometimes doctors and medical professionals are able to save patients’ lives despite indications pointing to a quite different outcome. These cases are a testament to the physicians' hard work, dedication, and skill. In a story spanning 50 years, a patient at Rambam Health Care Campus (Rambam) in Haifa, Israel, was recently saved against all odds.

Dr. Amit Katz.
 Photography: Rambam HCC.Dr. Amit Katz. Photography: Rambam HCC.

Israel, the start-up nation, is globally renowned for innovation, groundbreaking research, and its application in multiple fields, including medicine. The result is many seeming miraculous, life-changing procedures and interventions in oncology, cardiology, neurology, and pediatrics, to name but a few.

Dr. Amit Katz, director of the Department of Thoracic Surgery at Rambam, shares, “Fifty years ago, when my patient ‘Adam*’ was three years old, he accidentally swallowed an acidic substance.” Acids are corrosive; they burn tissue and cause severe and irreversible damage. “Adam’s esophagus was badly burned. Typical treatment of these types of cases involves surgery in which part of the colon is used to replace the esophagus.” Adam’s treatment and follow-up care were monitored closely.

Adam lived with his condition, but May 2022 was a turning point. Following sudden unexplained bleeding and weight loss, Adam consulted with Rambam experts. Advanced imaging tests revealed cancer in the largest part of the intestine – the colon – which had also metastasized to his lungs. A heavy smoker, Adam was also found to be malnourished.

Dr. Katz further explains, “Adam refused chemotherapy, and we decided that surgery, although life-threatening, was the only way to save his life. Shortly before surgery, Adam contracted COVID-19, followed by respiratory failure. He was admitted to Rambam’s General ICU, sedated, and ventilated. Adam’s condition improved. He recovered from the coronavirus and the ventilator was withdrawn.” With his condition markedly improved, Adam was transferred from the ICU to a regular ward in Rambam’s Joseph Fishman Oncology Center at Rambam.

While being prepared for his cancer surgery, a large abscess was discovered on Adam’s back, placing him in further danger. After an emergency treatment to drain the abscess, Adam now had to undergo treatment with intravenous antibiotics.

Finally, Adam’s cancer surgery could be rescheduled. Because his general health was compromised, the procedure was challenging. While part of his intestine was successfully removed, he again suffered respiratory failure and had to be sedated and ventilated. Adam again rallied and recovered and could finally return home.

“I am happy to share that Adam has stopped smoking, his weight has stabilized, he is in good health, and he has even returned to playing football,” concludes Dr. Katz.

As technology and medical knowledge continue to advance, the number of successful medical interventions will grow, allowing more and more people to recover from severe illnesses and injuries, and against all odds, more will survive.

* To protect his privacy, the name of the patient has been changed.

Based on a Hebrew article that first appeared on YNET News.