Main Events

Alon Pinkas, Israeli consul
general, and Nat Hentoff,
biographer of Cardinal O’Connor

Story Of Unwanted Baby
Is Doctor’s Triumph

By Tim Boxer

S chief of neonatology at Assaf Harofeh Hospital in Zerifin, Israel, Michael Goldberg’s stock in trade is babies. At a cocktail party at the New York home of Israeli Consul General Alon Pinkas, Dr. Goldberg told the story of one baby born with severe defects in the lower part of the body.

“His abdomen was missing,” Goldberg said. “You could see the bladder, the urine running into the bladder, and the structural defect of the penis.”

He told the parents that an emergency operation must be done immediately.

They couldn’t cope with it.

“We are going home,” they said. They left the hospital, empty-handed.

Goldberg and his staff named the baby Oded and went to work to save his life. They performed operation after operation.

“The little abandoned baby grew up in my department,” Goldberg said. “He had hundreds of aunts and uncles in the hospital.”

In a year another family came along and adopted the child. After a while Goldberg lost contact.

Last fall, 20 years later, the doctor got a call: “This is Oded.”

For a moment Goldberg was speechless. He arranged to meet the next day.

“Coming towards me was this tall erect man, head held high, in uniform. He was a member of an elite fighting unit. Again I was speechless. We both cried.”

The story of Oded, Goldberg added, is one of the highlights of his career.

Today Goldberg has added another responsibility to his specialty of taking care of newborn children.

“Every mother who goes home with her baby,” he said, “we give her a baby survival kit. This is a plastic tent with long zippers along the side, and its own air pump to filter out noxious agents.

“What has become normal in Israel is not normal in the rest of the world. This is life for us in Israel.”

Goldberg also said that American Friends of Assaf Harofeh Medical Center is funding a new building, to be named for New York’s late John Cardinal O’Connor, that “will treat babies who are brain damaged, with major congenital defects, and babies who’ve had their arms and legs blown away by terrorists.”

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