Hospital says most child hostages in ‘reasonable’ physical health after being freed

Renee Ghert-Zand is the health reporter and a feature writer for The Times of Israel.

An Israeli helicopter transporting newly released hostages, held since Hamas's October 7 attacks, lands outside Ramat Gan's Sheba medical center on November 28, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
An Israeli helicopter transporting newly released hostages, held since Hamas's October 7 attacks, lands outside Ramat Gan's Sheba medical center on November 28, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv provides an update on the former hostages currently being treated at the medical center.

Two women who arrived last night underwent a series of medical tests and psychological evaluations and have been found to be in stable physical condition. The women are still hospitalized and staff are attending to their medical and psychosocial needs.

“We also have children here who were freed from captivity and have been with us for the last 36 hours. They are in reasonable physical condition. They are undergoing a series of tests and evaluations,” says Prof. David Zeltser, deputy director of emergency medicine at Ichilov.

“The one exception is a girl who needed orthopedic intervention and underwent surgery last night. She has recovered from the surgery, is awake, has eaten, and is speaking with her family and friends,” he adds.

Zeltser appears to be referring to Yuval Engel, 11, from Nir Oz, who was released from captivity in a wheelchair and had a bandaged leg. Her mother Karina, 51, and sister Mika, 18, were also freed and transferred to Ichilov for treatment. The family’s father Ronen, 54, is still a hostage.

Without going into detail, Zeltser says although the children were in reasonable condition, they face various medical and psychosocial challenges that the hospital staff are addressing. Most of the children are expected to be discharged in the coming days and will continue to be cared for. Engel, who underwent orthopedic surgery, will stay longer and need physical rehabilitation.

Prof. Ronit Lubetzky, head of the pediatric department, says the children lost 10-17 percent of their body weight during their 50-plus-day captivity, adding that the hospital’s medical staff is working to reintroduce all key nutritional elements, including vitamins, into the children’s diets. This must be done in a way that avoids Refeeding Syndrome, whereby an undernourished person becomes critically or even fatally ill from receiving too much food and drink too quickly.

“We are putting together long-term optimal nutrition plans for the children and we will be following up on this regularly,” Lubetzky said.

Most Popular