Doctors at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon recently implanted a tiny pacemaker, similar to the one implanted in the body of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in an 18-year-old resident of Gaza. The pacemaker was inserted from her jugular vein.
She arrived from Gaza to be treated at Wolfson through Save a Child's Heart, an international humanitarian association that provides life-saving heart treatments and medical follow-up for children from developing countries, without consideration for race, religion, nationality, gender or economic status.
The Gazan teen has been treated for years in the pediatric cardiology unit of Wolfson after being born without an artery connected to her heart, which prevents a direct blood supply from the lower part of the body to the right atrium. Since the teen also suffers from a problem with the electrical activity of her heart, she underwent several implantations of a regular pacemaker, but the regular pacemakers implanted through her thoracic veins became contaminated many times, and therefore the team had to keep removing regular pacemakers from her body in a surgical procedure .
After diagnosing her condition and the futility of implanting another standard pacemaker, the combined team of the heart and pediatric cardiology units decided on a surgical procedure to remove the old electrodes and then implant a modern Medtronic pacemaker without electrodes.
Due to her rare condition and a disturbance in the blood flow from the legs, she was born with an abnormal connection of blood vessels from the left side of her chest to the heart. Therefore, the team realized that it would not be able to implant the innovative pacemaker with the usual catheterization technique that is carried out through the groin artery, rather only through the jugular vein.
'We are glad that we succeeded in the mission'
According to Dr. Michael Geist, director of the electrophysiology and pacemaker unit at Wolfson, the procedure has been performed only a few times in the world. "It is a not simple procedure in which we inserted an ordinary catheter from the jugular vein in the catheterization room, through which we reached the heart. We had no choice in the case of the girl who had repeated infections and so we had to remove the old pacemakers from her body," he explains.
"Our hospital is an example of how we don't discriminate against anyone," says Geist, "The girl received the most expensive and sophisticated pacemaker, just like the prime minister received, simply because it was medically justified. We, through the Save a Child's Heart association, take care of everyone, both from Africa and from Gaza. When I put on a hospital uniform, I don't see the color of the patient's skin or where they came from, and as a doctor I do my best to save them.
"It does sometimes feel like a drop in the ocean, there are many sick people in Africa, in Gaza, and in other Third World countries who need us. But I cannot solve all the world's problems. Everyone tries to do what they can where they are, so that everyone can live happily, and we are happy that we succeeded in our mission," he concludes.