Before starting this internship I was told, almost warned, that this was a very unstructured program and that it was my responsibility to make the most of my time. Wolfson hospital, based in Holon is a busy hospital with doctors doing amazing life-saving work, allowing medical students to observe and learn from them. I was paired up with another intern and we were free to roam around the hospital choosing where to go when something interesting was happening. The internship afforded us the opportunity to watch a wide range of paediatric cardiac interventions. We observed heart surgeries, spent time in ICU, saw echocardiograms in the cardiology unit and procedures in the catheterization lab.
Living in the SACH house with the children and their mother’s was a truly rewarding experience. The house accommodates children with heart problems and their carer’s usually a mother, sister, or nurse selected from developing countries, mostly Africa. The house also consisted of trainee doctors and nurses from developing countries in order for them to take their newly learned skills back home. Each afternoon after hospital time we played with these gorgeous children, getting to know them better, developing rapport and building a relationship with them. They were so happy, giggly, warm and welcoming and utterly gorgeous. It was particularly rewarding for us when we saw ‘our kids’ in the hospital getting their check-ups as we were already familiar faces, thus diminishing their potentially anxious hospital experience. Building these relationships made the second week of the internship more difficult as the children we became close with began to have their surgeries. At first this was extremely stressful for me as I had become so close so quickly with these brave little children. I felt sick the morning of Hawa’s surgery, a sweet little girl from Gambia, that I had developed a particularly special relationship with. It was such a relief to hear that her surgery went well and extremely gratifying to see her recover so quickly in ICU.
As well as observing what was going on in the hospital, the doctors would also find some time to take us to one side and teach us. I really appreciated this as I could see that their time was so precious. We learnt so much from these talks; from the skills required for CPR to how to be careful when reading medical literature. I learnt some important life lessons that I will take with me throughout the rest of my time at medical school and when I am qualified.
Overall my experience with SACH was very special. Living in the SACH house and spending a lot of time in the hospital, I was able to grasp the full picture of exactly what the charity does, not just the life-saving work it performs but also the love and care it affords to these children and their families during their stay in Israel. I feel particularly proud that Israel is able to reach out to these children and make such a difference to the quality of their lives. I now look forward to returning to campus and spreading awareness about this incredibly worthwhile charity and the smiles it puts on children faces.