Among the highest number of premature babies, zero brain damage, a work model copied over to all other hospitals in Israel…These are only some of the tremendous successes achieved by Mayanei Hayeshua’s NICU, a unit that leaves many experts amazed.
Mayanei Hayeshua’s NICU concludes a successful year, including the breaking of national records. Every year, the NICU treats between 300-400 newborns, among them approximately 90 babies weighing less than 1.750 grams – considered an especially low weight – as well as even tinier preemies who weigh less than a kilo.
Dr. Rabbi Yaakov Herzlich, a senior physician and one of three neonatologists in the NICU, lives in Bnei Brak. He studied in the yeshivah system, including the famous Chevron Geulah yeshivah, then studied medicine for 14.5 years, including paediatrics and neonatology.
In our interview with him this week, Dr. Herzlich repeatedly expressed his gratitude to G-d for the unit’s incredible successes. “Thank G-d, we have achieved great success – so much so that following control done by the health system, it was recommended that the treatment model developed by our team be copied to all NICUs in Israel. We concluded this last year with tremendous Heavenly assistance, with amazing achievements in early births, the babies sent home healthy and whole, with no intraventricular hemorrhage – which is quite rare in medical terms.”
According to Dr. Herzlich, “One of the common problems for preemies is intraventricular hemorrhage. This past year we had zero grade 3 or 4 brain bleeds. There is not a single other medical centre in our area that reached this kind of achievement.”
In addition to the “Heavenly assistance,” in Dr. Herzlich’s words, the hospital also employs wonderful “messengers” – angels in white, who do their jobs superbly well. Part of accepting a new preemie to the NICU is providing early care and protection. As such, every early birth at Mayanei Hayeshua is handled by a senior staff, which includes a doctor.
“It has been found that premature newborns who arrive at the NICU with a low body temperature have greater intraventricular hemorrhage and their body temperature drops very quickly and significantly. In the past, we would have preemies arrive at the NICU with a body temperature of 34.9-35°F. These days, thank G-d, we usually welcome them into the NICU with a standard body temperature of 36.5°F. That’s thanks to the work done to maintain the babies’ body temperature immediately after birth – a critical part of their care.
“In addition, the lights in Mayanei Hayeshua’s NICU are always dimmed to prevent unnecessary stimulation to the brain, since that can cause unnecessary damage. As paediatricians who work in the community as well, we get to see our NICU’s ‘graduates’ compared to children who spent the first months of their lives in other NICUs, and the difference between us and the others.”
At the same time, the doctor emphasizes, “We don’t have the tools to deal with complex problems in the heart or nervous system, so when we know there is a defect, arrhythmia, a very large head, etc., we transfer the patient to a better-equipped hospital.”
Notwithstanding the doctor’s last comment, Mayanei Hayeshua’s NICU is held in extremely high regard. “In the past month, the NICU has been full to capacity, with 13 new tiny preemies – meaning weighing less than 1.750 grams. That kind of number can be the annual average in other hospitals. Nevertheless, we hope to expand the unit even more so that we can continue saving Jewish lives.”