Tuesday, October 27, 2020 -
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Mercy

It’s got a long name, but a short, beautiful mission: healing kids.

Kids who need help.

Big help.

It’s the mission of ALYN Hospital, “Pediatric and Adolescent Rehabilitation Center” in Jerusalem.

Tucked away in many prayer books is a text entitled, “Prayer for Sick Children.” Are children not people? Are they not already covered in the prayers we already say? Yet, there is a special prayer for children.

It’s obvious.

A sick child arouses our mercy especially.

It is that mercy that motivated Dr. Henry Keller, an American orthopedist, to found ALYN Hospital in 1932.

You can check out the statistics: 3,000 children servied per year. 100 daily in-patients in the respiratory rehab unit. Twenty-five to 50 outpatients a day. Budget. Medical specialities. Length of stay. Jews. Arabs. Yes, the statistics tell a story, but not the real story.

This is a story of mercy.

Of giving a child a future.

A child born with something major.

Or a child who had a bad accident or some other major physical trauma.

Another way to spell ALYN is Patients and Patience. These are not kids who get well in a day or two. Maybe not even in a month or two. ALYN calls for patience. Extended mercy.

In the lingo of this children’s hospital, patients’ trauma may be “acquired” or “congenital.” “Acquired”:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • After cancer care
  • Lost a limb
  • Victims of terrorism
  • Burn victims

ALYN is not an intensive care unit. It’s rehabilitation — patience.

“Congenital”:

  • Neuro-muscular
  • Spina Bifada
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Brittle Bone Disease
  • Underdeveloped lungs (there’s a whole unit for it in ALYN)

“Acquired” or “congenital,” ALYN is not just about physical rehab.

Mercy must be more than medical: re-integration of the child into family life, school and the regular Israeli medicine.

“Acquired” or “congenital,” ALYN is about 70% Jews, 30% Arabs, and 100% Israeli. Well, almost. On rare occasion ALYN treats a kid from outside Israel — from Jordan, for instance.

In 1998 there was not a single Israeli Kupat Cholim (medical system) that could provide care for a respirator-dependent child living at home.

Dr. Eliezer Be’eri arrived at ALYN in 1998. He has been an advocate for kids. Long story short: There are now 400 respirator-dependent children living at home who came through ALYN, whose parents were trained in how to care for a respirator-dependent child.

Take Baruch.

He was born with one half of one of his lungs; the other lung was not viable. His intestines were in the wrong place, which preventing the lung from developing.

A well known hospital in Israel said: Baruch’s chances for survival are not good. He spent months not moving, not growing, on a respirator.

Dr. Be’eri said: Let’s move Baruch to ALYN — the move itself was risky. He arrived at ALYN last January.

Within three months he doubled his weight, got off the ventilator. Then coronavirus hit, but he still had some therapy because the hospital was open for the most dire cases. The hospital was split into two sections, one for respiratory-dependent children, with only one parent allowed in.

Now Baruch is back to full rehabilitation. Speech therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy. His lungs are growing, he is learning to make sounds as he is on a respirator.

Mercy!

It is not just the hospital that the coronavirus hit. It is the hospital’s development. No more meetings with donors. No more fundraising events.

Typically, ALYN’s Wheels of Love, the original charity bike ride in Israel, raises about $3 million for the hospital.

Deborah Rivel, director of development for ALYN, came to ALYN having participated in the bike ride.

Her background is in working with students with disabilities at the college level. Now, at ALYN, “I’m still in it. It is a bridge. Something I care a lot about. Clicks all the boxes for me.”

Watch out for Oct. 25-29, 2020.

A virtual bike ride?

Yes, a virtual option. People are asked to commit to a personal challenge in their own city or state, riding their own distance or elevation. #MyALYNRide.

The rest of ALYN’s budget is covered by families of the patients and by the agencies that refer them, but there is no government money. ALYN won’t accept it because it wants make its own decisions.

It does not get involved in the politics of health care.

Still more.

ALYN is not only about rehabilitation.

Not only about children in Israel.

It’s about the “ALYN innovation space.”

About ALYN’s partnerships with Israeli start-ups.

About solutions for people with disabilities that can be used anywhere in the world.

One child had limited mobility and could not put on a kippah. ALYN’s “innovation space” partnered with high-tech and created a mechanical arm that does the job.

How about this: ALYN created a lightweight, inexpensive, easy-to- produce wheelchair that is now distributed to 10,000 children in 22 countries.

This means that these kids can now go to school and get an education.

That’s ALYN.

Global mercy.

Copyright © 2020 by the Intermountain Jewish News



Hillel Goldberg

IJN Executive Editor | hillel@ijn.com


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