News and Events

Joint Operation between the IDF and Two Hospitals brings Newborn on Life Support to Ruth Rappaport Children's Hospital

Publication Date: 2/7/2022 1:30 PM

While drawing attention to the shortage of life support (ECMO) devices in Israel, this story also highlights the life-saving cooperation and coordination that exists between the life support and and intensive care units across Israel.

Top L) At Soroka; Top R) On the helicopter; Bottom) Landing at Rambam. Photography: Rambam HCCTop L) At Soroka; Top R) On the helicopter; Bottom) Landing at Rambam. Photography: Rambam HCC

One night last week, a group of doctors, nurses, and technicians emerged from an IDF Yasur helicopter that had landed on the helicopter pad at Rambam  Health Care Campus. They were carefully transporting a portable life-support (ECMO) device with tubes connected to a tiny, one-week-old newborn. This was the culmination of a joint operation carried out by medical teams from Rambam Health Care Campus, Beersheva’s Soroka Medical Center, and Israel's Air Force, in an attempt to save the life of the newborn, who was in severe respiratory distress (unrelated to COVID-19).

Rami Haizler, a senior ECMO technician at Rambam, recalls, “A team comprised of Dr. Tzvi Adler and Dr. Ahmed Alkum, attending physicians in Rambam’s Department of Cardiac Surgery; and ECMO technician Dor Levy set out for Soroka in an ambulance from the Merizan Company that was designed specifically to transfer patients on life support. After three hours of driving, the ECMO team joined the Soroka team and began connecting the baby to the device, only to realize that the long trip back to Haifa could endanger his life. The teams turned to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Thanks to the combined efforts of the IDF Home Front Command and the Air Force, a military helicopter was recruited to transport the crew and infant to the north.”

The unexpected flight to Rambam was much shorter than the drive down, and the newborn was soon admitted to the Wagner-Green Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in Ruth Rappaport Children's Hospital, where doctors are now fighting for his life.