News and Events

Like a Movie Scene: Heroic Action of Rambam Physician Saves Preborn Baby

Publication Date: 9/8/2022 10:30 AM

While being rushed to surgery for a C-section at Rambam Health Care Campus, Ella Vinon Hasid’s baby began to exit the birth canal. The baby’s life hung in the balance due to a rare umbilical cord prolapse. Dr. Nadir Ghanem’s resourcefulness restored the baby into the uterus with a swift action that bought precious moments and saved the baby’s life.

L-R) Dr. Yanon Hasid, Ella Hasid holding her baby, and Dr. Nadir Ghanem. Photography: Rambam HCC
L-R) Dr. Yanon Hasid, Ella Hasid holding her baby, and Dr. Nadir Ghanem. Photography: Rambam HCC

Residents of a Haifa suburb, Kiryat Ata, Ella Hasid (32) and her husband Dr. Yanon Hasid (36) – a family physician in the Maccabi HMO – came to Rambam for the birth of their third child. Ella was 39 weeks pregnant, and the expectation was that she would give birth to a healthy, big, four-kilogram baby girl.

The parents had been advised to go to the hospital when a routine examination showed a slowing of the fetal heart rate. Upon arriving at Rambam, the doctors decided it would be best to induce labor.

An Eight-minute Cliffhanger

The birth started at 5:56 pm. Dr. Gilad Shachak, a resident in the Division of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Rambam understood very quickly that they were dealing with an uncommon and dangerous complication – umbilical cord prolapse – a condition in which the umbilical cord exits the uterus before the baby. This dangerous situation can suffocate the baby at birth, if too much pressure is exerted on the cord, stopping the flow of oxygen. Umbilical cord prolapse occurs in only one-half percent of all births.

Dr. Shachak immediately called Dr. Nadir Ghanem, a senior attending physician in Rambam’s Division of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Seeing the seriousness of the situation, Dr. Ghanem immediately jumped on the birthing bed, placed his hand inside the womb, and held the baby there, moving it as far away as possible from the umbilical cord while Ella’s contractions kept pushing the baby further down.

In what seemed like a TV drama, Ella was rushed into emergency surgery, with Dr. Ghanem on her bed. The doctor did not remove his hand from the baby’s head until the C-section was completed at 6:04 p.m. The whole procedure, from the moment Ella’s water broke until the baby was pulled out, took just eight minutes—including the time it took to disconnect her from the monitor, wheel her down the corridor to the elevator, enter the operating room, anesthetize her, and perform the C-section.

“We Don’t Go to Surgery, We Fly to Surgery”

“Because I’m a doctor, I know what it means to induce labor. I more or less know how to read a monitor,” Ella’s husband shares. “When the amniotic sac began to rupture, I saw on the monitor that the baby’s heart rate had suddenly dropped from a normal 140-150 beats per minute to 40 beats per minute. I heard the resident shout, ‘Dr. Ghanem will come as soon as possible.’ Not five seconds passed and Dr. Ghanem was on the bed and had simply placed the baby right back in the womb.”

Dr. Ghanem explains, “The resident saw the problem immediately. The situation was urgent and we didn’t have much time. The baby’s head began to press on the umbilical cord, causing its pulse to drop. We flew to emergency surgery. I was on the stretcher, pushing the baby’s head up, holding everything between my fingers to ensure no pressure on the umbilical cord. Little by little, the baby’s heart rate increased as we raced to the operating room. And what’s important is the final result.”

Ella is still very emotional about all that took place. “I remember the doctor jumping on my bed, just like an angel who came to save us. At one point, I asked him if we were going to surgery and he replied: ‘We are not going to surgery, we are flying to surgery.’ That’s when I realized that the situation was not that great. Everything happened in a matter of seconds. Only later was I able to process what really happened.”

Her husband adds, “I knew that umbilical cord prolapse was an obstetric emergency. Watching our baby’s heart rate drop, I realized that the situation was dire. The scariest movies ran through my head and I was close to a breakdown. I kept my cool so Ella wouldn’t notice, but as soon as she entered surgery I fell apart. I didn’t begin to calm down until the nurse told me that our baby girl was fine, all the measurements were normal, and I could hold her in my arms. But I remained emotional for several days after her birth.”

The delighted parents have named their daughter Hodiya (‘thanksgiving’), as a thank you first and foremost to Dr. Ghanem, but also to all the dedicated staff at Rambam who helped save their daughter’s life.