Newsletter
April 2023
Transforming Healthcare in the Negev
Dear Friends!
Six months ago we celebrated 10 years of impact at the American Friends of Soroka (AFS) annual gala. Over the decade, we have proudly heralded the opening of the Legacy Heritage Oncology Center and Dr. Larry Norton Institute and the Francis and Nathan Kirsh Trauma Center and Emergency Department, and the installation of The History of the Star of David at Soroka. These are 3 of many important developments on the Soroka Campus, examples of how Soroka Medical Center is fulfilling its commitment to the Negev Region.

Today, a new decade of development is unfolding. AFS just concluded our annual Mission to Israel and had the privilege of witnessing the progress on the new Neonatal Care Center, Clinical Research Building and Innovation Center in the heart of the campus. We viewed the construction-in-progress of a new clinical floor for our flagship project — the Dr. Joel Sheinfeld Urology Institute. Soon Spring will be blooming in Israel, and we anticipate the upcoming era of development unfolding at Soroka, including the new Neonatal Center.

This Passover, we pray for peace and tranquility, continued life-saving medical advancement, and above all the blessing of good health. Thank you for being a part of our story, which represents the best of Israel.
Caroline Franklin Freidfertig
President
Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld
Executive Director
Miami Soirée Benefits a New Urology Institute
On January 26, AFS hosted a Soroka Soirée at Miami's historic Alfred I. duPont Building. The event benefited our new flagship project, The Dr. Joel Sheinfeld Urology Institute at Soroka Medical Center. The new institute, a first of its kind in Israel, will advance the frontiers of Urological care, improve outcomes and train the Urological surgeons of tomorrow. Based on a foundation of research, innovation, education, and global collaboration, housed in a state-of-the-art new facility, urological care will be transformed for the Negev.

Dr. Joel Sheinfeld, a world-renowned urologic surgeon at the forefront of the treatment of testicular cancer, was presented with the AFS Humanitarian Award. Dr. Sheinfeld is the Deputy Chief, Urology Service, and Florence and Theodore Baumritter/Enid Ancell Chair of Urologic Oncology at NYC's Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Chaired by Roselyne and Michael Freeman and Helene and Martin Lindenfeld, over 200 friends enjoyed the iconic Miami setting, and a magnificent and heart-warming musical performance by Cantor Netanel Hershtik, accompanied by Dr. Alan Mason. The fundraising was punctuated by an exciting raffle featuring a Padani Diamond necklace.
Amruta Parekh, Dipen Parekh, Rachel Heisler, Joel Sheinfeld
Soroka's Dr. Amit Frenkel | Alan Mason & Netanel Hershtik
Rachel Heisler & Roselyne Freeman
Anthony Manganaro, Sam Funt, Darren Feldman, Michael Freeman
Sara & Leonardo Lustgarten, Sandra & Morris Kaplan
Laura Peretz, Nelly Huppert, Ruth Steinberg
Dr. Dipen Parekh, longtime friend and colleague, presented Dr. Sheinfeld with the award. During his emotional presentation, he stated “An early piece of advice I received during my training under Dr. Sheinfeld was: ‘Your CV should tell a story,'…..well Dr. Sheinfeld's career is not a story but a whole encyclopedia…Dr. Sheinfeld is undisputedly the best testis surgeon in the world, with flawless execution and an uncanny sense of anticipation. His hand, heart and brain perfectly align to help every patient who comes his way.” His inspirational commitment to clinical excellence, mentorship and research has impacted the lives of many. Dr. Sheinfeld reflected: “This is, unquestionably the honor of a lifetime, and I am deeply humbled. I recognize, and appreciate the enormous trust that has been placed in me to help develop a preeminent Urology center in the Negev.”
To learn more, visit Soroka.org/Urology or contact Roselyne@Soroka.org, or call 305-799-0283.
Martin & Helen Lindenfeld, Rachel Heisler, Joel Sheinfeld
Moses & Esther Dodd, Iracilda & Pedro Lichtinger
Yael Muller, Patricio & Andrea Kreutzberger
Julie Franklin, Caroline & Shlomo Freidfertig, Rosalind Franklin
Ilana Rodan, Henri Boll, Pedro Lichtinger
Aida Politano & Judy Rodan
Dan & Laura Koffsky, Daniela Horn, Ralph Horn, Luis Silberwasser
Drs. Amruta & Dipen Parekh | Steffi Marcowitz
Recovering From Cancer, Appreciating The Gift of Life!
Liraz Hamu, a 41-year-old woman from Kiryat Gat, Israel, was stunned when she received a breast cancer diagnosis earlier this year at Soroka Medical Center. Liraz, who had no prior family history of breast cancer and led a healthy lifestyle, never imagined that she would be one of the more than 3,000 Israeli women diagnosed with breast cancer each year. But now, she's sharing her story in hopes of raising awareness about the importance of early detection and encouraging others to take charge of their health. Liraz has been receiving treatment at The Legacy Heritage Oncology Center and Dr. Larry Norton Institute at Soroka, known for its state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment capabilities, with its highly skilled medical professionals.
Liraz Hamu at Soroka Medical Center
After receiving her diagnosis, Liraz was determined to fight the disease and began a rigorous treatment plan that included chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation. Throughout her treatment, Liraz remained positive and determined, drawing strength from her family, friends, and faith. Soroka provided her with a comprehensive care plan that was tailored to her specific needs and circumstances, designed to provide the best possible outcome. Dr. Margalit Tucker and the medical staff worked tirelessly to deliver exceptional care, ensuring Liraz received the highest quality treatments available. Soroka also provided her with access to a wide range of ancillary services, including counseling, support groups and educational resources to help her cope with the challenges of her diagnosis and treatment. Despite these challenges, Liraz continued to be an active member of her community. She uses her experiences to raise awareness about breast cancer and to advocate by encouraging regular screenings, promoting healthy lifestyle choices and supporting breast cancer research.

Liraz says “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the amazing doctors from Soroka's Breast Health Center, including Dr. Ravit Agas and Dr. Shai Libson, and the exceptional team members from the Department of Plastic Surgery, Dr. Udi Maor and Dr. Meir Retchkiman, who treated me with profound dedication and patience. Today, bells ring for me, and it's a sign of victory! To joy and celebration!” Liraz is a survivor, and her story is a testament to the critical role that Soroka Medical Center plays in the lives of patients and their families in Israel and beyond. Soroka's commitment to providing high-quality, compassionate care has helped countless patients, like Liraz, to overcome serious illnesses and to lead fulfilling lives.

Rare Brain Operation Performed on Fully Awake Deaf Patient
In January 2023, a remarkable surgery took place at Soroka Medical Center where a deaf patient was fully awake during brain surgery, a first for Israel. Tawfik Alatrash is a 40-year-old man with congenital deafness, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor in his dominant left hemisphere, requiring a highly delicate surgery. According to scientific literature, this is the third time such a procedure has been performed in the world. Without surgery, the tumor might have continued to grow, affecting Tawfik's speech, motor, and cognitive functions. Tawfik then underwent a comprehensive evaluation that included imaging and neuropsychological tests that assisted in the planning and preparation of the procedure.
left photo: Lolita Mirson, the sign language interpreter who joined the team that performed the surgery. right photo: Dr. Amit Azriel during the operation at Soroka
To achieve this, and communicate with the patient during surgery, the medical team used a combination of sign language and written communication. The patient was able to communicate through sign language with a sign language interpreter, Lolita Mirson, who was present throughout the procedure. In addition, the medical team used a writing board, which allowed the patient to communicate by writing down their responses to questions and instructions. The medical team used specialized techniques to measure the electrical activity of the brain and monitor the patient's hearing in real-time. This allowed them to ensure that the surgical procedure did not further damage the patient's hearing or cause any other complications.

The surgery was led by Dr. Amit Azriel, a neurosurgeon who specializes in brain tumors. Dr. Azriel gained a great deal of knowledge and experience in these types of surgeries during his neuro-oncology fellowship program in Australia and was joined by members of the multidisciplinary team at Soroka: a dedicated anesthesia team led by Dr. Ron Gal; Dr. Limor Gertner Sa'ad, senior neuropsychologist at Soroka; and dedicated nursing and neurophysiology teams.

Dr. Amit Azriel, senior physician at Soroka's Department of Neurosurgery said “This operation was extremely challenging due to the patient's congenital deafness, and it required the outstanding multidisciplinary cooperation of many different teams from the hospital departments and the assistance of Lolita, Tawfik's interpreter. It was important for us to ensure we carefully preserved the motor areas and the areas responsible for understanding language, all of which are important for Tawfik's full functioning. I am happy that the complex procedure was successful and that together we were able to remove the tumor in a way that will help Tawfik to continue functioning without new limitations.” Tawfik was discharged from the hospital within a few days.

The success of this surgery at Soroka Medical Center has paved the way for similar future procedures, a groundbreaking achievement in the field of neurosurgery.

Art Students Help Solve Healthcare Challenges
A collaborative and innovative initiative between the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem and Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva, brings together the worlds of art and medicine. The Florence Project is named after Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, and is aimed at using art and design to improve the healing environment, promoting recovery and comfort for patients at Soroka. The Florence Project focuses on creating site-specific artworks that are tailored to the specific needs and challenges of the hospital environment.
Medical staff of the Department of Cardiology wearing face shields designed by students of Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design
The project brings together art and design students from Bezalel Academy and medical staff from Soroka Medical Center to work closely together to understand the needs of patients to then create artworks that address those needs in a thoughtful and effective way. Improving the healing environment for patients at Soroka is crucial to their overall well-being, positively impacting their healing process. The project also aims to provide a unique learning opportunity for the students, allowing them to gain hands-on experience in creating art that has a real impact on people's lives. By using art and design to create a more soothing and calming atmosphere, the project is helping to improve the overall quality of care for patients to reduce stress and anxiety during their hospital stay.
Upcoming Events
  • April 10 — Passover Concert in Tel Aviv
  • July 21-23 — Shabbat at the Hamptons Synagogue
  • October 2 — Unraveling Genetics in the Negev with Prof. Ohad Birk — NYC- The Explorers Club
  • October 25 — NYC Gala — Pierre Hotel
Passover Concert in Tel Aviv
In Israel for Passover? Don't miss our debut Tel Aviv Benefit Concert. World-renowned cantors Netanel Hershtik and Shai Abramson are set to perform on Monday evening, April 10th at Tel Aviv's premier music venue Heichal HaTarbut. The evening benefits Soroka Medical Center, Israel's leading healthcare institution. Ticket prices begin at $40. There are a limited number of VIP tickets available that include a special private reception. For more information, please see Soroka.org/Tickets, or call (914) 725-9070.
American Friends of Soroka Medical Center
PO Box 184-H | Scarsdale, NY 10583 | (914) 725-9070