An Israeli preemie born via surrogacy in the country of Georgia went into isolation upon arrival in Israel, as required. A doctor from Rambam Health Care Campus visited his home to perform an important medical procedure.
When Adi and Alon Deutsch, residents of the northern region of Misgav, became parents via a surrogacy procedure in the Caucasian nation of Georgia nearly two months ago, they never imagined the challenges they would have to face as they made their way home to Israel.
One of their most recent obstacles was an important eye exam that their premature baby son Tomer had to undergo, to ensure that he wouldn’t develop an eye disease that could lead to blindness.
In the spirit of adaptation during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Yonina Ron, an attending physician in Rambam’s Department of Ophthalmology, decided to put on personal protective equipment (PPE) and enter the family’s home—which is essentially in isolation—to carry out the important examination.
The relationship with Dr. Ron was established even before the Deutsch family returned to Israel. "While on the move and looking for a flight to Israel, we realized that the situation was changing in the hospital in Georgia," recalls Adi, the mother. "The staff was amazing and helped us in every way possible. We also received a lot of support and assistance from the surrogate company "Manor" which helped us quite a bit, but there were new guidelines each day. We realized that the checkup that was supposed to be done before we left Georgia could not be carried out as scheduled, and that we needed to find a solution that could be implemented upon our return to Israel. We started looking for ophthalmologists for premature babies and reached out to Dr. Ron. While speaking to her from Georgia, she promised us that everything would be fine."
"Every premature baby is born with an undeveloped blood vessel in the retinal area," Dr. Ron explains. "These babies undergo further examinations to ensure that they complete development and do not develop diseases that can lead to vision problems or blindness. In this case, due to the dynamic situation resulting from COVID-19, the tests were not completed at the Georgia hospital and it was necessary to ascertain the condition of the baby when he came to Israel."
While experiencing their early days as new parents of a preemie in a foreign country during the COVID-19 pandemic, the couple’s main concern was bringing their son to Israel when there were no regular flights. It was impossible to have new documents issued, and they also needed to make sure that their baby was healthy. Once the family successfully completed the journey, they contacted Dr. Ron to coordinate the examination. However, this also proved to be challenging; their trip abroad required them to go into isolation, which made visiting the hospital a complex matter.
With the support of the Rambam administration and the Department of Ophthalmology, led by Department Director Professor Eytan Blumenthal, it was decided that Dr. Ron should go to the Deutsch family home, in order to prevent exposure of the family in general and the baby in particular to the hospital staff and vice versa.
Dr. Ron performed the test in the family’s home with the help of little Tomer’s parents. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief when the results of the test came back negative, indicating that his eyesight is normal.
"This is our job," says Dr. Ron. "There is a baby who needs our help, and we are committed to making sure his medical condition is good despite the unusual conditions (due to the pandemic). I am glad this case ended well."
"We are happy that this whole thing is behind us," said Adi. "After two crazy months, during which we met so many good people who went above and beyond to help during a difficult time, we are now focusing on our family unit and wishing everyone well."