For Idan, an almost incidental fall at home resulted in a spinal cord injury, paralysing his arms and legs. Thanks to emergency surgery at Hadassah Ein Kerem, he is now able to function fully. “I live, walk, and use my hands without any indication of my injury,” he says. “I could be paralysed today if the Hadassah experts hadn’t acted quickly and with the utmost gentleness and sensitivity in the operating room.”
At the end of a fairly ordinary evening, Idan Ben Zeno went to sleep with his wife by his side. When he woke up to go to the bathroom, he never imagined the turbulent events that would lead to the emergency surgery at Hadassah that would save him from paralysis.
“I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, not unusual or out of the ordinary,” he says. “I felt very dizzy, and in the bathroom, I could already see black in my eyes. I managed to call my wife Galit, who just happened to be awake because I unwittingly touched her leg when I got up. That’s what saved the situation as she immediately came to my help. I lost consciousness. When I came around, I found myself in a pool of blood. Galit was above me, trying to wake me and encouraging me to get up. I fell with my hands forward, and they locked under my whole body and the doorframe enclosed me on either side. I try to move my body, and there was no feeling in my hands or legs. It was super weird, a feeling I had never experienced. At that point, I still was not nervous, but I definitely couldn’t move.
Galit extracted my hands and managed to drag me a little, and after a few minutes, the feeling in my legs returned. My hands remained paralyzed, and it took a while before I was taken to the hospital because the situation was complicated.”
The 38-year-old Idan, who produces balloon events for organizations and institutions, understood that his situation was not simple. “When I arrived at Hadassah Ein Kerem, I began to realize that I had gotten into trouble, but I felt that G-d loved me. The staff surrounded me and started suturing my skull, which had opened from the fall.
After complaining of pain, weakness, and paralysis in my hands and legs, Dr. Muhammad Shahwan, an orthopedic specialist in spinal surgery, evaluated the situation and what I was going through. He quickly referred me for imaging tests, and when I came out of the MRI, they started preparing me for surgery.”
Dr. Ohad Einav, a specialist in orthopedic surgery with expertise in complex spine surgery, spinal trauma, and degenerative spine surgery, who was called to participate in the surgery, said: “Idan came to us with a concussion and a report of a feeling of paralysis that repeatedly occurred in his arms and legs. During the ambulance evacuation, his motor skills returned in the legs but not the arms. He felt paralyzed; he couldn’t open and straighten his fingers or move his wrist and elbow.”
A neck CT scan showed cervical spine stenosis in the upper vertebrae. When an MRI was also performed, he was diagnosed with spinal cord injury around those vertebrae and swelling of the spinal cord. Dr. Josh Schroeder, the Spinal Surgery Unit’s director, decided that two senior surgeons would perform the surgery due to the complexity of the operation, so I joined Dr. Shahwan to assist. With anesthesiologists Dr. Wladyslaw Ozerki and Dr. Haitam Mesmer, we performed a procedure to release the spinal canal and fix the vertebrae where the injury was.”
Dr. Shahwan emphasizes that time is critical in such cases. “At Hadassah, in the Spine Unit, we are leaders in performing spinal cord injury surgery as soon as possible to allow the spinal cord maximum recovery after injury. Together with immediacy, teamwork is important, bringing maximum results.”
Idan, who is recovering after surgery at Hadassah Ein Kerem, does not hide his excitement about the successful results of the operation. “Just before I was put to sleep, Dr. Shahwan explained what they would do. He was calm and confident but stressed that it was a very delicate operation. I decided I wasn’t afraid and trusted this amazing, professional person standing before me. I fell asleep without any fear,” he says. “When I woke up, I thanked G-d, the spinal surgery unit surgeons, and all the people in the operating room who were part of what happened there. I’m alive! I walk, move my fingers, and use my palms, and none of this can be taken for granted. I could have been paralyzed today if the experts from Hadassah had not acted quickly and with the utmost gentleness and sensitivity in the operating room. Every day that passes, I realize that I could have been in a completely different place if I hadn’t come here.”
Idan, a resident of Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood, has been running his balloon business for almost a decade. Before his accident he had expected to be busy building balloon arches for Rosh Hashanah in all the schools in the city. “I have five children. I have to go back to work, and most of all I must return to making people happy with my balloons. This is my essence; I am a living, happy person, full of action.”
“To the surgeons and the entire staff at Hadassah, I don’t know how I can ever thank you enough. Every word is incomparable with what you did for me. You gave me back the life I knew before.”