Many of you know me from my articles. Today I am full of anger and pain as I weep for two of my relatives who died this week. Both were under the age of 40. Ibtisam, who was 38 years of age, died on Saturday, the day after she collapsed while dancing at a wedding.
Many of you know me from my articles. Today I am full of anger and pain as I weep for two of my relatives who died this week. Both were under the age of 40. Ibtisam, who was 38 years of age, died on Saturday, the day after she collapsed while dancing at a wedding. After her collapse she was transferred to Al Hussein Hospital, a governmental general hospital in Beit Jala which serves our whole district. The doctors examined her when she arrived, they told the family that she was brain dead and that they cannot do anymore for her. She died the following morning. Let me tell you a little about her. She was a mother of 4 children, the oldest is 20 and the youngest is 10 years of age. She was a person full of life and joy, she was always smiling. She was a natural beauty who believed in living life. She was very active, played sports and involved herself in her community. Her relatives, along with her many friends who know her from the area cannot come to terms with her death. How do we bear the pain of loss of a such a beautiful flower, a woman loved by so many?
Ibtisam had complained of headaches for a while and she had collapsed before. She went to various doctors who performed neurological tests but they all said she that she was fine and that nothing was wrong with her. That night, she collapsed and died from a vein which burst. Her mother believes that she is now an angel who died while dancing and living life.
Today I went to work after spending 3 days with the family. When I arrived I was told of the death of Elias, who was 40 years of age; he had a cancer in his tongue. It wasn’t the cancer which killed him though, he died from an infection in his tonsils, caused from the feeding tube. I do not put the blame on any of the doctors at the hospital, but I do want to tell you of the immense but hidden suffering we have to bear due to the siege and occupation of our towns by Israel.
In order to get a high standard of medical treatment for critical illnesses, you have to go outside the Bethlehem district, either to Al Magased Hospital or to the Israeli Hadassah hospital, both in Jerusalem. In order to be admitted to the Hadassah hospital, which is the best hospital, you have to go through many processes. First, permission is needed from the Israeli authorities for an ambulance to take you through the check point, then you need to be allocated an appointment or place in the hospital to be treated. The cost for treatment is prohibitive now as most Palestinians cannot afford to pay the medical fees. You have to pay first, then you will get treated. Many people have died before they can even get permission from the DCO office if Beit Jala. Coordination between the DCO and the hospital takes for ever. Many more people will continue to die whilst they have to wait for the bureaucratic process to be completed, illness does not wait for a piece of paper giving permission to travel.
I sat with the women of the family who were deeply distressed and weeping. They all say it was a doctor’s mistake that caused his death. His sister, tears streaming down her face, said that the last time his condition worsened, they tried to get a permission to transfer him to Hadassah(In West Jerusalem) but had no luck. He was sent to Al Hussein hospital, the only alternative. Many people do not want to go there as it is so critically under funded and the facilities so basic. They fear that they will not get adequate help for serious illness.
I am not trying to blame the doctors and nurses there, it is not their fault. Please forgive me, I am only trying to show the world another side of our plight, another consequence of Israel’s continued invasion, siege and curfews; a consequence which receives little or no attention from the media.
We must change this. We need your help to build a proper hospital with modern facilities and specialized staff that will serve the district of Bethlehem. I am calling on all our citizens who are doctors and practicing their profession elsewhere to come back – we need you here. We are in urgent need of your skills and experience to treat your fellow Palestinians. I know there are many of you living abroad. Please, come back and help us.
I know that you will say where can we work when there is no proper medical equipment or clinics? I say to you, let us change that. Let us work together to try to do something about this issue.
We need all the help we can get to build a proper hospital which can treat critical and complex illnesses such as cancers, kidney failure, heart disease, neurological problems, severe trauma, etc. I want you to know that as a Christian from Beit Sahour I do believe in God and I do believe, as our older generation always say when somebody young dies, “this is his destiny and this is Gods will to have her/him at his side”. I am a strong believer, but I also believe in the benefits of medical technology and that we can do so much more to prevent people from dying needlessly. Only a few miles away, in Israel, sick people have the advantage of modern and well equipped facilities, why do we have nothing comparable?
I left the women weeping. I had to come back home and share my grief with you all.
We must find ways to realize the goal of a new hospital. We need you to first work on a full study to build a hospital which addresses the needs of the community, then we need your help in collecting donations to make this appeal come true.
Citizen of Beit Sahour