Message from Shaare Zedek Medical Center Jerusalem Director-General Prof. Ofer Merin;

Medical Director and Commander of the IDF Field Hospital – sent just before Shabbat, February 10th, 2023

Shalom to All,

On Monday morning, as you all know, a powerful earthquake and aftershocks hit southern Turkey.

Israel, along with other countries, responded quickly, immediately sending a rescue mission followed by an aid mission with a large field hospital the next day.

We landed in Kahramanmaraş, a city of about a million people that had been struck by two particularly powerful tremors.

Hundreds of buildings had collapsed with well over 10,000 people already accounted for as being killed in Turkey alone.

Unlike previous missions that I have participated in, this time we established the field hospital in collaboration with a local hospital, and not as an independent medical unit.

Every day prior to the earthquake, this hospital had served a large population. In the wake of these horrific events, it has been crippled with many staff and family members killed or missing, severely limiting the hospital’s ability to function.

Together with volunteer Turkish medical teams from other regions, we were able to reopen it so that it can now operate an emergency room, intensive care unit, operating rooms, and an inpatient hospital unit.

This morning we were able to save people who were rescued after four days under the ruins! One of them was a four-year-old boy who arrived in serious condition and hypothermic. We were able to stabilize him, and he is being treated in our intensive care unit.

I just had the opportunity to spoke with his mother, which for me was a deeply moving experience.

Another case involved a 12-year-old girl who came in with extensive orthopedic injuries. She was treated and is now in a stable condition.

We are also treating a man who spent 110 hours under the rubble, locked in an air pocket. He survived without food and water where the night temperatures drop to -7 C (19 F) at night. His first request after being rescued was… a cigarette!

The humanitarian efforts in situations like these should be recognized as important not only for saving lives, but also in helping the population to resume some degree of stability and normality as soon as possible.

There are now tens of thousands of homeless people in this region, and their needs will also need to be addressed.

The opening of the hospital is an important step in that direction, with additional aid still to come.

Let us pray that we will be able to help, as much as possible.

Shabbat Shalom from Turkey,