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    Monday, July 08, 2002

    Collateral Damage: The medical care of suicide bombing survivors. (link requires NY Times registration). Some examples:

    -She needs to strengthen her right leg, badly damaged by three screws packed as shrapnel inside a suicide bomb that exploded at the trendy Moment Cafe here on March 9. A fourth screw lodged near her heart. Now this pretty young woman bears a scar more commonly seen in old men, a neat red line cut by surgeons from her collarbone down her sternum.

    -"Ah-ah-ah! Ooo-ah!" moaned Motti Mizrahi as a therapist stretched his left arm, pinned inside a macabre cage in part of the treatment intended to save his hand. "Of course I am angry."

    Like Ms. Ravid, Mr. Mizrahi, 31, was at the Moment Cafe that day in March when 11 people were killed. That he still has his left hand at all reflects how savvy Israelis have become about catastrophe. When the explosion left his hand dangling by a string of flesh, he had the presence of mind to run outside to the street.

    He knew that rescue workers would not go inside until the cafe was flushed for other bombs.

    -In a rehabilitation room in the Lowenstein Center, Maya DaMari, 17, limped through her exercises with a self-conscious smile: a hop through half a dozen colored hoops, a cautious bounce on a trampoline.

    Five months ago she went with a friend to a pizzeria in Karnei Shomron, a Jewish settlement in the West Bank. A charming young man with bleached blonde hair said, "Goodbye, and I won't see you later," and blew himself up. Two Israelis were killed, including the friend she was eating with.

    She keeps a newspaper clipping with a picture of an X-ray showing the 1.5-inch nail that is still lodged in the left side of her brain. It has partly paralyzed the right side of her body.

    -Ilona hoped to become a model, and she is certainly tall enough. In fact, if she had been shorter she might have escaped unscathed: a friend standing in front of her absorbed most of the blast and died. But shrapnel hit Ilona in her head, taking part of it away.

    In the last year she has learned to walk and talk again, though she can speak only about 30 words. She clearly understands far more than she can respond to. She likes her art therapy class, and on a recent day she painted a papier-mâché giraffe she had fashioned earlier, painstakingly, with one hand. She also made a decorative mirror, much to the surprise of the medical workers.

    -Dr. Ricardo Segal, a neurologist at Hadassah, said the definition of success varies. A few recover fully. Others do not. He counted as a victory one young man, badly wounded with shrapnel in the brain, who lives far below his potential but well enough to work part-time at McDonald's.

    -He walked down the hall to see a patient who was doing "very well," Ronit Tubul, 30, wounded on June 18 when a suicide bomber killed 19 other people on a bus in south Jerusalem. With her skull broken and shrapnel in her brain, it took two weeks before she could speak again.

    It was hard to understand her low and jumbled whisper. But two words did come through: "For peace."

    We too often only measure these horrid attacks on civilians in terms of numbers of dead. We forget about these, the survivors, who are living reminders of the depravity of those savage bombers.


    posted by Sydney on 7/08/2002 07:27:00 AM 0 comments


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