Forty two people died in the devastating Carmel forest fire, and dozens of others were injured – including Fireman Danny Hayat and Prisons Service officer Jalal Bisan, both of who suffered serious third degree burns. Hayat and Bisan were among the worst injured in the fire, and both are still in serious condition in Rambam Hospital in Haifa. And now, thanks to an overnight fundraising effort by Diaspora Jewry, the two will be able to undergo an operation that will provide them with synthetic skin, an expensive procedure that will go a long way to getting them back on their feet.
The story began on Monday afternoon, when Sarah Netanyahu, wife of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, paid a visit to those injured in the fire who were hospitalized at Rambam. Mrs. Netanyahu met with doctors and family members of the hospitalized, including members of Hayat’s and Bisan’s family. She praised the pair’s bravery, adding that “after talking with members of their families, I understand where their spirit of determination and self-sacrifice comes from.”
Netanyahu, along with family members, then discussed treatment options for the two with Professor Yehuda Ulman, head of the hospital’s medical plastic surgery unit. Ulman said that a quick solution was necessary, because with their skin largely burned, the two were at high risk of infection. One temporary solution, he said, was a skin transplant – but this was far from an ideal solution, because the body often rejects “foreign” skin. A proper donor was also hard to find in Israel, as the amount of skin available for such transplants was very limited. Another solution, Ulman said, was the use of synthetic skin, an extremely expensive product that required a long, complicated procedure – with neither the skin nor the operation covered by Israel’s national health insurance.
Netanyahu decided to contact the Keren Hayesod, the United Israel Appeal organization, which has raised funds from Diaspora Jewry in 45 countries since long before the establishment of the state. She made a call on Monday night asking the group to see what they could do about raising money to cover the procedure – and at 4 AM Tuesday Netanyahu got her answer, with the UIA saying it has succeeded in raising 150,000 euros overnight, much of it from its Canada appeal.
UIA chairman Modi Zandberg said that the response to appeals for funds to help with the aftermath of the fire had been overwhelming. “As Prime Minister Netanyahu persuaded world leaders to provide help to fight the Carmel fire, we appealed to world Jewry to help treat the wounded, and we were able to raise the money in a short period of time,” Zandberg said. Sarah Netanyahu, for her part, said that she was glad she had been able to be of service.