Exceptional Ethics, High Morale
What about the other wounded? American and Israeli doctors find no conflict between their military orders and their medical ethics: they must and do treat soldier or civilian, friend or foe, equally. Dr. Fox recalls operating on an enemy combatant in Iraq who needed 70 units of blood. The entire staff of the field hospital was cross-matched for transfusion, but this patient was AB negative. Two of the surgeons scrubbed out to donate their own blood.
Explore This IssueMay 2007
In some cases this ethical policy can win the hearts and minds of the enemy. Journalist Brigitte Gabriel was raised as an Arab to see all Israelis as monsters. But after her mother was wounded in the first Lebanon war, and received superior treatment in Israeli hospitals, Ms. Gabriel became an outspoken advocate of Israel.
The horrors of war can bring out the best in human beings—and that is what leaves the deepest impression on the doctors who have served at the front lines. Above all political differences, these physicians have an overwhelming admiration for the bravery of the “muddy boots” soldiers, and consider it a privilege to care for them.
“They’re doing a great job, and their morale is excellent. It’s especially inspiring to see how they take care of their fellow soldiers,” said Dr. Brennan.
“Their self-sacrifice and courage make me feel good about the youth of today,” said Dr. Holt.
Colleagues are also singled out for praise. During Israel’s summer war, Dr. Golz’s hospital itself was bombed. “A rocket hit meters from my own house,” he said. “Our staff’s families were living in bomb shelters. Nurseries and children’s facilities were closed. But not one person missed work—in fact, I had to ‘triage’ them so they wouldn’t wear themselves out.”
“Besides our troops,” said Dr. Xydakis, “the people I admire most are the reservists. They are among the finest doctors in the world, and they leave their remunerative practices to put themselves in harm’s way. They are true patriots.”
Look for the Unusual
Otolaryngologists on or near a battlefield or terror attack expect to see a wide range of pathology—but hepatitis B? That is what presented to the team at Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera, a city in central Israel, following a suicide bombing in 2002.