A Tourist Shares Her Story
My husband and I came to Israel for for what was to be a much awaited family celebration. What transpired was a medical crisis that lasted nearly four weeks.
Two days into our trip, my husband suddenly became extremely weak, his blood pressure dropped dangerously low and his heartbeat became extremely rapid. What we didn’t know at that point was that he was bleeding internally and losing blood at an alarming rate.
Realizing that we were in crisis, we arrived at the emergency room in Shaare Zedek Hospital in the early morning hours. We were completely overwhelmed. My husband’s life was clearly in danger but the seriousness of the situation was beyond our grasp. Our Hebrew was limited and the medical system was significantly different than we were accustomed to in the States. Being a foreigner, I was shuffled from office to office in the midst of the crisis. Trying to negotiate my way around the hospital without speaking Hebrew only added to the stress.
Later that day, our sister-in-law called. Her son had seen an ad for Chaim V’Chessed somewhere. “I don’t even know what they can do,” she said, “but their ad says something about navigating life in Israel. Maybe they can help.” I had nothing to lose.
I called Chaim V’Chesed and was immediately put in touch with Rabbi Freedman. I introduced myself and told him our situation. I said that I had no idea how he could help us; just that we would appreciate any help he could offer. And that is how the miracle of Chaim V’Chessed entered our lives.
Rabbi Freedman said that someone would be there right away. Within a half hour, he showed up. Immediately he got to work figuring out what we needed, what he could do to help. He made us feel totally comfortable. That same evening – it was a Thursday night – he returned to the hospital with food. It was a small gesture with a huge impact. And that was only the start.
Soon we met Zevi Weingarten, Chaim V’Chessed’s hospital services coordinator, as well. As the weeks wore on, my husband’s case became increasingly complex and Zevi became increasingly involved. It turned out that we needed private doctors and lots of intervention. Zevi made arrangements for private doctors, teaching me Hebrew along the way. He showed me around the hospital. He helped arrange a room in the hospital hotel for me over Shabbos and literally walked me to pick up the key.
Paysach and Zevi showed up like clockwork, every day for weeks. There are countless things they took care of for us, things we never could have done ourselves. They helped me get doctor’s reports translated into English. They sent us other visitors for chizuk. Zevi was constantly interpreting and intervening on our behalf. They sat with us during my husband’s most difficult surgeries, took charge in the calmest way.
After numerous failed procedures, a very serious emergency surgery was necessary as a last resort. Zevi flew into action and helped us find an outstanding surgeon who was willing to perform a surgery on a Friday afternoon, when medical services are greatly reduced. Not an easy feat.
The surgeon insisted I have an Israeli cell phone if he should need to be in contact. I did not have access to one. Next thing I know, Paysach was there with a cell phone for me to use until the end of our trip!
Every hospital should have a Paysach and a Zevi. They are simply phenomenal human beings. What strikes me is that they came into our life with a simple phone call of “I don’t even know what you can help us with” – and they came along with us for the whole journey. It is impossible to describe the comfort they gave us by being there for us and making sure we were cared for. What more could they have done? The more we realize just how serious it was, the more appreciative we are to have had Chaim V’Chessed with us at every juncture. They played a large role in saving my husband’s life.
We truly consider Chaim V’Chessed a miracle in our lives.
Phyllis & Maier Sadwin