Yusef Rabaya, age 19, spent most of his life in bed at home in Jenin.
Born with cerebral palsy (CP), he could sit only if he was propped up. Standing was excruciating and dangerous–and could cause permanent paralysis.
With CP, a movement disorder caused by brain damage, sometimes the irregular muscle movement pulls on the spine, causing a curve. In Yusef’s case, neuromuscular kyphosis–a curve from the front to the back that presents like a hump, caused him to be bedridden. With time, this curve gets larger. By Yosef’s teen years, his back curved so much that that he couldn’t stand and suffered from terrible pain.
“Yosef’s condition was very difficult,” explained Iyad Rabaya, Joseph’s father, “and we took him to treatments wherever possible–hospitals, clinics, institutes, and more.”
As citizens of the Palestinian Authority with connections to many European countries, the Rabayas reached out for help. “We searched the whole world in the hope of finding treatment and a solution to his condition,” Mr. Rabaya said. “We reached out to European countries to no avail.”
Two years ago, they flew to Boston. “We received financial and emotional support from many people in the world–Norwegians, Swedes, and others,” Mr. Rabaya noted.
In Boston, rods were implanted in Yusef’s back to strengthen his spine.
Tragically, Yusef’s condition worsened and the implanted rods broke in half.
The pain was unbearable. Now Yusef couldn’t sit or stand.
The solution turned out to be right in Israel.
As Mr. Rabaya relates: “No one in Israel or abroad wanted to treat Yusef until we got to Dr. Josh Schroeder at Hadassah. ”
Dr. Schroeder, a senior surgeon and spine specialist in the Hadassah Medical Center’s orthopedic department, accepted Yusef as a patient despite his complex condition. Dr. Schroeder recalls:
“Yusef arrived at Hadassah about a month ago. We performed reconstruction surgery on the broken rods implanted in his back. To do this effectively, we needed equipment that is not used in Israel, because the technique and equipment for its implementation are used almost exclusively in the United States.”
As a result, Hadassah had the equipment brought in from the US. “We received four boxes with rods and screws developed by Dr. Oheneba Boachie-Adjei–an emeritus surgeon at The Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
For four hours, Yusef underwent surgery in one of the underground surgery suites in Hadassah’s Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower. A few days later, he managed to stand on his feet for the first time in half a year. The procedure, as described by Dr. Schroeder, was complex: “The incision was made on the scar from the previous operation in Boston, the spine was exposed, and the implants were broken. With the help of the special equipment brought from the US, the broken implants were removed, the spinal deformity was corrected over time, and new implants were inserted and anchored to the vertebrae.”
Yusef is up walking, with Hadassah’s recommendation for physical therapy to build the muscles that deteriorated during all the time he couldn’t get out of bed.
“With my whole heart, I want to thank the doctors and the entire medical team that saved my son,” says Mr. Rabaya.
Please watch the video as Yusef takes his first steps.