Hello to everyone out there reading this,
I know I have been distant these last couple of weeks but it is very difficult to post on a blog whilst away from home. I hope that this blog post will give you a good description of my Israel experience at Wolfson Medical Center and at Save a Child’s Heart.
If you don’t know yet, I volunteered at SACH for three weeks over the summer of 2018. Specifically, I was a medical intern for 2 weeks and a volunteer for one week. I found this experience to be life-changing and one of the most memorable moments for me in my journey in becoming a physician.
I would like to talk about a specific patient that I was able to see him throughout his journey at Save a Child’s Heart. From pre-op, to the OR and post-op, I was with this child (or more like a teenager to be more exact) in the hospital and when he was discharged back to the SACH house. His name is Usman Saidyna and he is 18 years old. He was diagnosed with Tetrology of Fallot and he needed cardiac repair surgery as soon as possible, considering patients with a TOF go through a repair by one year of age. In the hospital, he was slow to warm up, possibly because of my stethoscope or possibly because he was nervous about the operation. However, after the surgery, I went to check on him from time to time, checking to see if he was still nauseous or if he was too fatigued to get out of bed. I could tell that he appreciated my efforts to come in and ensure that he was comfortable in a very unfamiliar environment. Finally, when he was discharged home, I was able to see the long-term effects of the surgery. I was able to see Usman’s personality. At the house, I played with him some cards, tried to communicate with him and I even got a chance to take him out for a walk in to the park close by the house. Seeing that smile on his face when he was able to climb the rope course at the park is something I would never forget. He was back on his feet, taking pictures with a smile on a face, something that is probably new to all of his family members back home in Senegal. I know this may sound corny, but I was able to see Usman’s figurative and actual heart.
Usman is one of many kids that SACH bring to Israel from all over the world to fix their hearts. And being both a medical intern and a volunteer at the house, I was able to see both the immediate and long term effects of these surgeries. For example, Hannah from Myanmar is a 5 year old girl who had a hole in the septum of her heart. Before the surgery, she was a little girl with blue lips and a blue tongue who ran out of breath from typically non-strenuous activities. Right after the surgery, you can tell that her lips and tongue were a natural pink color. And once she was discharged back to the house, you see her running around playing with the ball without running out of breath. Her mother explained to me with tears in her eyes how the surgical procedure and the whole experience in Israel was a “miracle.”
To finish up, I would just like to emphasize that I was mainly a medical intern with SACH, but at the same time being a volunteer also had a huge impact in my experience. Back at home, they teach us in school that in order to be a good physician, you need to know the physiology, the pathology, the medications… In addition, there is another thing they teach us that is crucial in the medical profession, and that is being able to relate to the people you treat. Being a medical intern, I was able to learn so much about pediatric cardiology and about the surgical procedures being done. But as a volunteer, I was able to color, play games, watch television and just enjoy my time with the kids. It is required as a medical practitioner to empathize with your patients and being a volunteer can help you get close to the patients, that way you can treat them as best as you could. Granted, doctors don’t have the time to do this, but I am extremely grateful that I was able to do both.
I will hold this experience forever with me in my heart. Thank you SACH 🙂