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Even underground, the healing and caring continue

Just 1,000 meters from a rocket strike, Sheba Medical Center moves the tiniest patients into an underground ward

Sheba Medical Center
Sheba Medical Center

Founded as Israel’s national hospital in 1948, Sheba Medical Center is now the largest medical center in the Middle East and has been ranked one of the top ten hospitals in the world for three years in a row by Newsweek magazine. Sheba Medical Center plays a central role in Israel’s healthcare system and was put in charge of Israel’s successful and much-admired Covid-19 effort by the prime minister.

Every year Sheba Medical Center’s 10,000 medical professionals deliver 11,000 babies, do 50,000 surgeries, treat over 50,000 cancer patients and have contact with almost 20% of the Israeli population. In addition to its centrality in Israel, Sheba Medical Center also reaches outside Israel’s borders to offer healthcare and healing wherever it is needed. So many requests come in for Israeli and Sheba Medical Center expertise and help that it formed the Israel Center for Disaster Medicine and Humanitarian Response. And now the requests come in from all over the world.

When a recent military accident resulted in a massive and disastrous explosion in the country of Equatorial Guinea, Israel sent a relief mission of the IDF and staff from Sheba Medical Center. When there were eight Kurdish infants that needed urgent cardiac surgery, they were brought from Iraq to Israel so Sheba’s best pediatric cardiac-thoracic surgeon could operate on them. In December 2020, Sheba’s Israel Center for Disaster Medicine and Humanitarian Response team, led by Prof. Elhanan Bar-On, sent nearly two dozen members of its battle-tested coronavirus medical team to combat a deadly second wave in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy. As the coronavirus soared in Brazil, neighboring countries were hard-hit. Uruguay’s Ministry of Health made an urgent appeal to Israel and Sheba Medical Center sent a huge shipment of equipment followed by experts in logistics, treatment and pandemic mitigation. 

Sheba Medical Center also plays a key role for the IDF.  Every day over 40 IDF soldiers are treated there. The medical center is one of the places where IDF doctors and other medical personnel do residencies and receive training. In fact, the current director general of the medical center, Dr. Itzik Kreiss, spent his career in the IDF Medical Corps, rising to be the IDF surgeon general prior to coming to Sheba Medical Center.

The talented professionals at Sheba Medical Center are also medical innovators. They were creating so much medical technology innovation that they formed the ARC Innovation Center. The ARC raises venture funds for MedTech innovation and incubates the companies, giving them both support and one of the best testing grounds in the world for their developments. In some cases the medical technology is homegrown at the medical center; in others, they work with partners or bring companies into the fold. ARC’s ambitious goal is to reshape healthcare by 2030 and numerous new technologies have already emerged from it. Through the ARC Innovation Center, Sheba Medical Center is a partner in a massive new medical campus planned in Chicago to bring health equity and improved healthcare outcomes to a chronically underserved area of that city, and then from there to other cities across the US.

The Covid-19 pandemic has reminded all of us how interconnected we are, the vulnerabilities we share, and the power we have when we stand together and reach out a helping hand. The Sheba Medical Center represents the best of that notion. When you feel a sense of pride on hearing about an Israeli humanitarian medical mission, odds are it was from Sheba Medical Center. And by supporting the medical center, you can become part of the solution. Go to and click “Donate.” And you too can help make your reach exceed your grasp and become part of the health and healing of all of humanity.

Brian Abrahams, CEO, American Friends of Sheba Medical Center

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