A Palestinian family’s car was involved in a fatal head-on collision with a bus. Tragically, the father died instantly.
The mother was in critical condition with a severe head injury. She had to be anesthetized, put on artificial respiration, and rushed to Hadassah’s Intensive Care Unit.
The parents’ 9-month-old son, Yamen, was taken to the Pediatric ER. The doctors knew exactly how to treat the damage to his lungs and skull fracture sustained from the car accident, and quickly got to work on the poor child.
However, there was another aspect of caring for the infant that left everyone feeling hopeless. Yamen was exclusively breastfed and refused bottles, leaving those caring for him at their wits’ end.
He cried for seven hours as attempts were made to offer him bottles. Though his own mother was not able to nurse him given her unconscious state, a seemingly unlikely solution was offered to Yamen’s aunts.
Yamen’s aunts asked Ula Ostrovsky-Zak, a nurse on night shift, if she could help them find someone who could breastfeed the inconsolable and hungry baby. They had asked just the right person because Ostrovsky-Zak was a nursing mother and empathetic toward everyone involved.
The aunts hugged and thanked her, but were shocked. They never expected that a Jewish woman would be willing to breastfeed a Palestinian baby.
Ostrovsky-Zak told them that any Jewish mother would have done the same. The nurse found time in between caring for her other patients to breastfeed Yamen.Ostrovsky-Zak told Ynetnews, “I saw him relax and cling to me, and he calmly shut his eyes and fell asleep in my arms. I saw him look into my eyes and then devote himself in the most natural way possible. All he wants is his mother, or someone who will provide him with a direct connection.”
Ostrovsky-Zak nursed him throughout the night, but as her shift came to an end, she needed to get home to her own children. Yet, she was concerned about how Yamen would get any nutrition once she left.
She explained the situation on an Israeli Facebook page asking if any mothers would be willing to come nurse him once she left. Amazingly, over 1,000 likes and comments in just two hours poured in from women offering to help whether it be to simply hug and hold the baby or nursing mothers who could feed him.Yamen’s uncle, Samer, now considers Ostrovsky-Zak to be a sister. Political affiliation and descent meant nothing to Ostrovsky-Zak when it came time to caring for the life of another mother’s son when it was desperately needed.
Ostrovsky-Zak told Today, “Any mother in Israel would have helped him. The human connection is very strong.” A mother’s love can overcome just about any obstacle.