The latest in my Good News Friday series.
“Sepsis is a huge issue — one of the top killers, often as a complication of pneumonia or urinary tract infection and at times due to an infection acquired in the hospital,” says Dr. Yoav Avidor, CEO of Tel Aviv-based Cheetah Medical. “It progresses rapidly and is difficult to treat. In advanced sepsis, all the body’s organs start to fail. Septic shock sets in and the mortality rate is about 40 percent.”
Doctors can reduce mortality up to 40 percent by treating each case of sepsis right away with exactly the amount of intravenous fluids needed to correct imbalances of oxygen and other nutrients being delivered to the organs through the bloodstream.
“The physician must stabilize the hemodynamic system so that all the organs get exactly what they need — not too much and not too little,” explains Avidor, a urologist by training.
But until Cheetah’s NICOM device came along, the only way to determine the right amount was through an expensive and invasive procedure that can itself cause infection. Since doctors prefer not to do this, a better way was clearly needed.
As soon as NICOM’s uniquely non-invasive system received FDA and CE Mark approval four years ago, it was bought by hundreds of hospitals in the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, South Korea, Israel and France for ICU and anesthesia units. Just by sticking four sensors to the skin on the patient’s chest or back, the staff can continuously collect all the data needed to determine how much fluid to administer.
Now, trials at a dozen US hospital emergency departments are testing the assumption that using NICOM earlier would keep more patients from the ICU. This would save both lives and money, since one in four hospital deaths is caused by sepsis, and it’s the reason for about half of the admissions to medical ICUs.
Several other medical device companies in the 1980s and 1990s offered non-invasive ways to monitor hemodynamics, yet none worked well enough to be adopted widely. “NICOM is the first advance since then. Practically, it’s the only non-invasive system that hospitals actually buy and use on the really sick patients,” Avidor tells ISRAEL21c.
The genius behind the invention is Hanan Keren, a Weizmann Institute of Science physicist who helped commercialize MRI technology at the Israeli company Elscint. The device is made in Israel and marketed through Cheetah’s US headquarters in Vancouver, Washington.
Once again, kol hakavod and hats off to our brilliant scientists and bio-engineers.
My second link is not an actual news item, but it is a very moving account of a special meeting in Israel, and will be certain to warm your heart and bring a smile to your faces before Shabbat.
The story in the Algemeiner is titled “Meeting a hero: an unexpected lunch with Israel’s Aharan Karov“. Here are some highlights, but I do urge you to read the whole thing.
In the midst of a hungry crowd in Gush Etzion, seeking to satisfy our hunger with an Israeli-style lunch, we suddenly noticed, Aharon Karov, one of Israel’s most courageous heroes.
In 2010, Platoon commander 2nd Lt. Aharon Karov, then 22, was ordered to cut his leave short and report for duty in Gaza in Operation Cast Lead on the morning after his wedding to Tzvia, his 19 year old bride. What made him so famous was that three days after his wedding, he entered a booby-trapped house in Gaza, where he nearly died from the unexpected explosion.
He was flown to Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tivkah, where he underwent six operations on his head and chest in the course of 12 hours. All of Israel watched as Aharon made a dramatic recovery, regaining consciousness within days despite very severe injuries.
Seeing him here, two years later, having lunch at the same spot as our group seemed so extraordinary. What would you do under those circumstances? Scream? Jump? Shy away? But we were actually able to talk with Aharon. We cried with him, laughed with him, celebrated with him. He showed us his bodily wounds but all we saw was the beauty of his soul.
It would be politically-correct to describe that encounter as a spiritual one. But it seems to me it was more than that. It was, in our minds and in our souls, an encounter with G-d. A vivid G-d deep within the fabrics of our being.
The ordinariness of it all was transfixing. We were everyday tourists, looking for appetizing dishes. Aharon was looking for a quiet spot, far from attention. But out of that emerged something, well, beautiful. The unbreakable unity of our nation, the magical fusion of Jewish souls coming together as one, was palpable. G-d’s presence sometimes arrives unannounced, in places where we expect it the least.
[Note: Aharon Karov made a miraculous recovery and his wife gave birth to a baby 2 years ago].
Perhaps, this encounter best summarizes our Congregation Beth Tefillah’s first-ever Israel trip. We traveled from North to South, from East to West, in the footsteps of our ancestors.
Yet it was the people themselves, our brothers and sisters across the land, who shone as the brightest light. For some reason, they all looked familiar, as if we had known each of them for countless years. We could almost hear them whisper: “We think we know you. Can we be of any help?”
Their piercing eyes were unlocked, focused and determined to find a common bond. It is as if they were on a mission to complete the puzzle of the Nation of Israel by attempting to rebind all of its souls together, one piece at a time, one soul at a time.
“Jews move to different countries, adopt different accents, ways of life, ways of behavior,” my mentor, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, once shared with me. “Nevertheless we somehow find ourselves at ease with each other, comfortable within our own family. We feel a certain amount of safety in being together and we find it easier to make connections. Do you know why? Because, in essence, our nation is really one big family.”
On that beautifully spiritual note I will wish you all Shabbat Shalom!