'Hello distinguished surgeon,' physician in war-torn enemy state writes to Israel

Syrian doctor, in unprecedented note, asks Israel to save patient’s life

Detailed and polite handwritten letter, attached to clothing, explains previous medical care performed on patient in critical condition

A Syrian doctor's note, found attached to a patient, to his 'distinguished' Israeli colleague (photo credit: Channel 2 screenshot)
A Syrian doctor's note, found attached to a patient, to his 'distinguished' Israeli colleague (photo credit: Channel 2 screenshot)

A handwritten doctor’s note was found attached to the clothing of a Syrian man brought to Israel in critical condition Tuesday. The note explained, in Arabic, previous surgical procedures and medical care the man had received days before in Syria. It asked Israel to save his life because the Syrian doctors could not provide the necessary medical treatment.

While Israel has started to treat growing numbers of people wounded in Syrian battles close to the border in recent months, this was the first case of a cross-border “transfer” from a Syrian medical facility.

The note, which was signed by a Syrian doctor and dated June 8, opened with “Hello distinguished surgeon” and explained that the patient, aged 28, suffered from a gunshot wound in the chest and shrapnel damage to his diaphragm and liver, according to a translation provided by Channel 10.

The Syrian doctor performed surgery to address “heavy abdominal bleeding” but noted that “the liver could not be sewed up” and that “it was necessary to examine the condition of the abdominal injury and remove the heavy pressure bandages” that the doctor had applied.

“Please do what is necessary and thanks in advance,” the note concluded, while noting the various drugs that had been used during treatment and that the patient had been hospitalized for two days.

Israel has so far treated around 20 Syrians who have been injured as a result of the Syrian civil war, and the IDF has set up a field hospital along the Israeli-Syrian border to help care for the injured. This particular patient, transferred by the IDF to Ziv Medical Center in Safed on Tuesday, is believed to be the first to be treated in Israel who had recent medical care in Syria.

Dr. Amiram Hadari, director of the trauma unit at Ziv hospital, said the procedure carried out in Syria was likely performed in a makeshift hospital and was “rudimentary,” but that “it seems that the [Syrian] operation saved his life.”

The wounded man was treated for his injuries and remained in critical but stable condition in the intensive care unit on Wednesday.

Last week doctors received an unpleasant surprise when they found a live hand grenade in the pocket of another Syrian patient.

The discovery led to the temporary evacuation of the hospital’s trauma unit, until police sappers could remove the explosive device.

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