News and Events

Child’s Sidelock Saved During Life-Saving Surgery

Publication Date: 9/29/2022 10:30 AM

A six-year-old ultra-Orthodox boy, underwent life-saving neurosurgery at Rambam. Understanding their religious importance, Dr. Ido Paldor saved one of the boy’s sidelocks.

(L-R) Dr. Ido Paldor, six-year-old Eli with one of his sidelocks, and his father. Photography: Rambam HCC(L-R) Dr. Ido Paldor, six-year-old Eli with one of his sidelocks, and his father. Photography: Rambam HCC

Every Jewish male is commanded not to cut the hair from the sides of their heads.

“Do not cut off the hair on the sides of your head...”  (Leviticus 19:27)

Important to their Jewish identity, ultra-Orthodox males follow this biblical commandment.

Eli, a six-year-old boy, is a member of an ultra-Orthodox family in the Haifa area. Steering a toy push car in the neighborhood playground, he bumped into a pole and injured his head. Shortly after the accident his parents saw Eli vomiting and took him to a nearby district hospital.

Eli’s condition did not improve and he began to lose consciousness. Hospital staff decided to transfer him to Rambam Health Care Campus, in Haifa – the only Level 1 trauma facility in the region. Upon admission to Rambam, he was sent for a CT scan, which revealed a cerebral hemorrhage. Fearing brain stem dysfunction, the doctors had to sedate and ventilate Eli. Now his parents faced a dilemma: whether or not to consent to brain surgery in order to stop the bleeding.

Dr. Ido Paldor, Deputy Director of Rambam’s Department of Neurosurgery, explained the surgical procedure and possible consequences if the surgery was not performed. Paldor went on to explain that both of Eli’s sidelocks would have to be shaved off. Before the accident, Eli had always had a smile on his face, shining happiness. He’d had sidelocks since he was 3-years-old – they were integral to Eli’s identity as a member of the Jewish, ultra-Orthodox community. His parents understood their son’s life was in danger and agreed to the surgery. Eli was taken to the operating room.

Dr. Paldor, who grew up in Jerusalem in a religious community with a religious education, knew that a boy without sidelocks would stick out in an ultra-Orthodox community and decided to leave Eli with one sidelock.

During the hours long surgery, the surgeon located the bleeding artery that threatened Eli’s life, stopped the bleeding and removed the accumulated blood. Paldor then relayed details of the surgery to the parents and apologized for having to shave off one of the sidelocks. Relieved that the surgery over, the anxious parents thanked the doctor for his understanding and sensitivity.

The post-surgery CT scan showed that the complex surgery was successful and Eli was transferred to Wagner-Green Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in Ruth Rappaport Children’s Hospital at Rambam Health Care Campus. The next morning Eli could answer questions and communicate with his parents. His condition improved rapidly and three days later he was discharged home without the need for post-operative rehabilitation.

Now, just like any other child his age, Eli can continue to play happily and joyfully, without feeling different from his friends. His parents are thrilled and in appreciation they wrote a heartwarming poem dedicated to Dr. Paldor.