Last week, pediatric cardiologist Dr. Sagi Gavri was in the catheterization laboratory at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem, enlarging the blood vessels of a nine-year-old’s pulmonary artery when rockets were launched at Jerusalem. He received an urgent phone call from his wife Orna, who wanted his advice as to what she and her children should do. Her dilemma was unusually complex since the Gavris live on Kibbutz Nir Am, which borders Gaza. It, too, was being attacked.
As Dr. Gavri relates, “I have a lot of experience with this. I grew up on Kibbutz Nir Am.”
Dr. Gavri and Orna decided to meet in Jerusalem. However, they found that the roads out of the Kibbutz were blocked, and she couldn’t get to Jerusalem. So when Dr. Gavri finished caring for his patient, he headed home.
During the typically one-hour and 10-minute ride, Dr. Gavri had to get out of the car and hit the ground twice to avoid rockets. When he finally arrived home, he found out that his wife and sons went to his parent’s house, which is a little better situated for getting away from the noise of the sirens and rockets. Their two dogs were also there. Because Dr. Gavi’s parents don’t like the dogs, Orna said she would take them home and stay overnight with the dogs.
Sometime during the night, Orna got up to use the bathroom, leaving the dogs in the safe room, where she, too, was sleeping. Suddenly, she heard a loud boom. When Orna stepped out of the bathroom, she realized their home had been hit, for she was standing on shards of glass with her bare feet. The yard was burned, the windows were blown out, the roof was broken, and the TV was smashed. Orna called her husband, who came to get her and the dogs. As he got to his house, he could smell the burning.
Dr. Gavri is head of a medical outreach project called Un Coeur Pour la Paix (One Heart for Peace). The project raises money among French Jews to cover the cost of heart surgery at Israeli hospitals for Palestinian children.
“I have personally treated over 200 children from Gaza,” relates Dr. Gavri. “I think of them when my own children are being attacked. It’s complex. But kids are never to blame. Kids are holy.”
Main picture caption: Dr. Julius Golender, back left, and Dr. Gavri Sagi pose for a picture with Filipina mother Nina and her baby Francis Joseph, who was born with a rare heart defect and whose life they saved in Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem in February 2018. (Hadassah Hospital)