Sharon Biton, a lieutenant colonel in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), stationed at the West Bank headquarters of the IDF Civil Administration, suddenly lost the vision in his left eye, but thanks to Hadassah’s expertise and willingness to persevere despite low odds of success, Biton’s vision has been restored.

Biton’s diagnosis was central retinal artery occlusion, which meant that a blockage prevented blood from getting to his eye. When several physicians determined they could not do anything to help him, the IDF Surgeon General called Dr. Yuval Weiss, Director of Hadassah Hospital- Ein-Kerem, who was in his car with his wife and daughter, on their way to do the weekly grocery shopping. He, in turn, telephoned Prof. José Cohen, Hadassah’s renowned interventional neuroradiologist. According to the medical literature, if six hours go by from the time a person loses sight from such an occlusion, less than 5% of patients can be helped. It had already been 11 hours since Biton went blind in his left eye. Nevertheless, Prof. Cohen decided it was worth seeing what he could do.

Biton was transferred to Hadassah and a team of experts, including Prof. Eyal Banin, Director of Hadassah’s Center for Retinal and Macular Degeneration, set out to perform the invasive radiology procedure that could possibly restore his sight. Prof. Cohen inserted a catheter into Biton’s groin and maneuvered it along the sensitive “journey” toward his brain. Once Prof. Cohen arrived at the appropriate spot, he injected the first portion of the fibrinolitic materials and asked Biton if he felt anything. Biton said he did not. Prof. Cohen then injected the second portion. Again, he asked Biton, “Do you feel anything?” This time the answer was, “I can see!”

To ensure that this unbelievable success would not be fleeting, Biton underwent a long list of tests, ruling out the existence of a cardiac embolism or other abnormalities. Biton’s sight keeps improving and he will probably be left with only minor damage to his lower field of vision.

 

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