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Wednesday, August 27, 2003

G-d bless Hadassah

via Naomi Ragen

It was with trepidation that Hadassah staff returned to work the morning after the attack on the No. 2 bus. Trauma chief Prof. Avi Rivkind, his head nurse Etti Yaakov and pediatric surgeon Eitan Gross, who spent much of the previous night in the ER, headed straight for the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit the next day.

"I'm still trying to deal with what I saw last night," said Prof. Rivkind. "When we heard the first ambulance sirens, we had no idea of the number of injured children coming in. In charge of triage, I went out into the forecourt to direct the stretcher-bearers. I'd never imagined seeing medic after medic emerging from ambulances carrying not stretchers, but babies in their arms. I could never have guessed how this would feel. And I would never have expected most victims of a terror attack to end up in a PICU."

PICU head Prof. Ido Yatziv led Rivkind, Grossman and Yaakov from crib to crib, holding up X-rays of each tiny patient which showed glass damage to little lungs, blast injuries to diminutive organs. The tiny occupants lay still for the most part, breathing shallowly, the skin of their faces and still hair-less heads seared by the force of the explosion. "We've absorbed the shock by now," said Yaakov, "and the adrenalin surge has gone. Now, without the cushioning effect of the emergency of yesterday, seeing these badly injured babies is almost too much to bear."

Leaving the PICU, the trio ran into Pediatric Surgery head Prof. Raphael Udassin. Rapidly reading their mood, he said: "I know what you're feeling. I was at Hadassah-Mount Scopus last night, and we all battled the same emotions. But, you know, what happened at Hadassah yesterday is what makes this medical center great. Despite our human reaction, our shock, our grief and our disbelief, we still pulled together and did the job we're trained to do - and did it well. And that's why so many of these children are still alive this morning."