At the American Friends of Soroka Medical Center’s June 15th Third Annual Gala at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Dr. Amit Frenkel, Soroka University Medical Center’s senior intensive care specialist and distinguished service honoree, saluted then shared the stage with Daniel Fish, a young Israeli soldier whose life he had saved.
Emceed by NBC News Chief Legal Affairs Anchor Dan Abrams and “Hatikvah” sung by Dudu Fisher, Dr. Ehud Davidson Soroka’s Director General, detailed the center’s response during last summer’s “Protective Edge” siege as well as the medical needs of the IDF. Dubbed Israel’s “Iron Dome” for Health, Soroka is the sole major medical center for all of Southern Israel — “60% of the land of Israel” — serving a multicultural peacefully coexistent population, where 16,000 babies are born every year (more than at any other Israel hospital) and where during [the siege] it cared for over 1,200 wounded.
“Today we are 8.4 million people strong,” said Israel’s consul general Ido Aharoni. “By 2050, we are projected to have 18 million people — do you think they’re going to live in Tel Aviv? They will find their home in the Negev. Ben Gurion’s concern for Israel in 1948 was not [so much] Arab aggression but the #1 threat to Israel’s existence was the lack of water. Today in 2015, we are on the verge of self-sufficiency when it comes to water production…”
Describing Soroka’s servicing more than one million residents “each and every day” honoree Dr. Frenkel described the “18-mile short distance between Gaza [and Soroka] that a military helicopter can cross in 7-9 minutes” and the urgency to provide ‘this “Iron Dome” [for Health] 24/7 to treat these young soldiers…. We treated more than 700 wounded soldiers during operation “Protective Edge,” more than fifty of them were severely wounded.” Frenkel lauded the ever-alert trauma staff where Soroka medics would rush wounded soldiers to a waiting staff. “We found that mini golf carts are excellent for transporting wounded soldiers… We erect barriers to protect the wounded [soldiers’] privacy…. Each soldier is escorted by an armed security guard in front of the bed leading into the trauma unit. Every second counts,” said Frenkel as on screen the 300 guests watched silently as a soldier was being treated on a golf cart racing to the trauma unit.
Calling him “my personal hero” Dr. Frenkel embraced Daniel who he said was “born on a kibbutz in the North of Israel. He volunteered for an elite Israeli army unit on a mission to go into a city in Gaza [to locate tunnels]. Hamas had booby-trapped an empty building…some of Daniel’s friends did not survive the explosion, others were severely wounded… The trauma room had only one trauma bed left… When Daniel arrived pulseless he occupied the last trauma bed. We managed to save his life.”
“My English is not very good,” said a handsome charming Daniel who,leaning on crutches, recalled “lots of pain, physically mentally, sadness about losing my friends. I forgot a lot because of painkillers…physical therapy. My injury was very complicated… ups and downs. Still looking for solution to my problem so I can walk again. Dr. Amit who saved my life made it possible for me to stand here and speak with you guys.” As the guests rose for a standing ovation, Dan Abrams joked: “All the Jewish mothers in the room are looking at that face and thinking ‘ohhh, he’s so good-looking!’”