Opinion

Israel's Sheba Medical Center Is a Global Giant

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Posted: May 02, 2019 12:01 AM
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Israel's Sheba Medical Center Is a Global Giant

Source: Abir Sultan/Pool via AP, File

Once again, Israel is at the helm of discovering another monumental medical breakthrough.

Dr. Amir Tirosh from Sheba Medical Center at Tel HaShomer, Israel, and a team of scientists from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women's Hospital have linked propionate, a common preservative in food, to dramatic increases in diabetes and obesity.

This groundbreaking research could become a game-changer for people who suffer from these diseases. And the State of Israel, tiny yet mighty, is pushing the limits of medical innovation, dreaming bigger than ever.

Israel's national hospital Sheba Medical Center, Tel HaShomer was just named by Newsweek as one of the top 10 hospitals in the entire world, and I was not the least bit surprised. Having visited Sheba myself, I have witnessed its modern-day medical miracles firsthand.

Israel's emergence as a global medical powerhouse is no small feat. In a turbulent region, Sheba is an oasis of coexistence whose mission is to save lives through the best of humanitarianism combined with top medical innovation.

To stroll through Sheba's 200-acre campus is like walking through a futuristic medical city, unlike anything I have ever seen. The potent concentration of humanity, brainpower, persistence and ingenuity is unparalleled.

Sheba is the largest hospital in the Middle East, but it is not just the hospital's size or number of patients treated annually that makes it so impressive. It is the quality of care, which spans the full continuum from preventative onward. It is the compassionate attention to detail. It is the Sheba doctors' spirit: doing everything to save lives in Israel and around the world. And if it may be medically impossible today, the doctors who double as researchers are committed to defying the odds and creating a new reality for the future.

Just last month, a heart procedure dubbed the "first in the world" of its type was performed at Sheba.

Professor Victor Guetta, director of the Invasive and Interventional cardiology unit at Sheba, saved the life of a 29-year-old patient who arrived at the hospital with an aneurysm in the left ventricle of his heart that had ruptured and bled into his chest cavity. Guetta plugged the bleeding hole in the artery using a device typically used to unblock arteries.

This young patient had a long history of heart complications and had already undergone several heart procedures. Guetta needed to find an alternative solution instead of performing yet another complicated, dangerous and invasive surgery. So, he came up with a new idea, and the patient returned home, discharged just two days later. This is Sheba Medical Center at its best.

Such displays of medical innovation are one of the many reasons Sheba is one of the global giants of medicine. Another Sheba value that never ceases to amaze me is its boundless humanitarianism.

On its campus, Sheba treats patients of all backgrounds indiscriminately, also deploying emergency medical teams to help those around the world who are afflicted by mass casualty tragedies, natural disasters and humanitarian crises. To save the lives of victims, Sheba has traveled to Nigeria, Tanzania, Guatemala and Haiti, and the list goes on.

Several weeks ago, when Cyclone Idai left a trail of devastating destruction in Beira, Mozambique, Sheba mobilized a humanitarian team of medical experts to treat the desperate victims. In January, when a deadly cholera epidemic plagued poverty-stricken Lusaka, Zambia, Sheba's first response team was the only international medical team on the ground. They succeeded in stopping the fatal outbreak of cholera.

Sheba also completed a successful humanitarian medical mission to Papua New Guinea, where its medical experts performed over 80 life-transforming cataract surgeries that restored vision to the blind, reaching people in remote villages by boat.

On the global front, Newsweek has recognized Sheba as a "leader in medical science and biotechnical innovation, both in the Middle East and worldwide. The center's collaborations with international parties have advanced innovative medical practices, hospital systems and biotechnology." These high-caliber collaborations are changing the future of medicine.

Most recently, Sheba partnered with Swiss-based CDMO Lonza to revolutionize the next chapter of personalized cancer cell therapy through faster and less expensive treatments, giving real hope to stage 4 cancer patients.

There are no limits when it comes to Israel's medical innovation, and Sheba is on the front lines of this mission. I am proud to count some of Sheba's fine doctors among my friends and applaud its director general, professor Yitshak Kreiss, and his team for lifting Israel's national hospital to new heights.