Surgery okay delayed, Gaza patient dies

November 18, 2009
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Ali Waked, 16 November 2009

Samir al-Nadim, 25, a cardiac patient, scheduled to undergo surgery in Nablus month ago. He even had opinion from Israeli doctor indicating severity of his case. Authorization delayed, Al-Nadim leaves late for surgery, dies day later

Medical opinions, appeals from humanitarian organizations, and official urgent requests – none of this helped Samir al-Nadim, a 25-year-old Palestinian heart patient who could still be alive today if he hadn’t slipped between the bureaucratic cracks of the various bodies dealing with the movement of patients from the Gaza Strip to Israel or the West Bank.

The Coordination and Liaison Authority in Gaza and the Shin Bet have passed off responsibility for this incident, claiming that treatment of the issue was irreproachable.

About a month ago, the al-Nadim family turned to Israel with a request to allow Samir to undergo heart surgery in Nablus. The family filed the necessary paperwork with the Palestinian liaison authority and with the Doctors for Human Rights group, because of the urgency of the case. The application was received by the Coordination and Liaison Authority.

The family was then informed by the authority that Israel does not accept applications submitted by human rights organizations, only those filed by the Palestinian liaison authority. Therefore, the request submitted by Doctors for Human Rights was not taken into consideration in Samir’s file, which included a report by an Israeli doctor at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer saying that his case was critical and could not be delayed.

Al-Nadim’s family’s request was granted 23 days after it was submitted. Al-Nadim was brought to the hospital in Nablus, but died a day later. Dr. Yasser Abu-Tzafia told Ynet that al-Nadim arrived at the hospital in very serious condition, so much so that he was not fit to undergo the operation.

“He suffered from a very high temperature, a severe infection in two of his heart valves, heart failure, and kidney failure,” said the Palestinian doctor. According to him, the main reason for the deterioration in al-Nadim’s health was the lack of proper medical treatment in the Gaza Strip and the fact that he was transferred to Nablus for treatment after a significant delay.

Doctors for Human Rights: Why boycott?

Samir al-Nadim’s brother, Ayyad, said that the Gaza hospital did not have the necessary equipment to take care of his brother. “My brother had three children: two girls aged four and two and a one-year-old baby. Now we need to take care of them. True life is in Allah’s hands, but the delay played a big part in my brother’s death.”

The rights group Doctors for Human Rights are demanding an investigation into the conduct of the Coordination and Liaison Authority and that justice be paid by those responsible for the negligent treatment of al-Nadim’s application.

In a letter addressed to the head of Gaza’s Coordination and Liaison Authority, Col. Moshe Levi, the organization wrote, “This is a tragic incident that could have been prevented if it weren’t for the boycott imposed on human rights’ groups.” Doctors for Human Rights is currently treating 29 patients in the Gaza Strip whose transfer to Israel or the West Bank is being delayed by Shin Bet and Coordination and Liaison Authority sluggishness. Among those awaiting treatment are five cancer patients and one cardiac patient who are in serious condition.

The coordinator of the government activities in the territories said in response: “The Coordination and Liaison Authority in Gaza denies making any attempt at simulating a severance of ties between it and the Israeli human rights groups or at tying these claims to the death of Samir al-Nadim.

“The al-Nadim family’s application was transferred to the defense authorities’ treatment. Immediately upon receiving authorization, his transfer to the Nablus hospital was coordinated.

“Any claim trying to make a connection between the manner in which the application was handled and al-Nadim’s death is a cynical and unethical attempt to exploit his death to knock the activities of the Coordination and Liaison Authority in Gaza.”
The Shin Bet said in response: “The Coordination and Liaison Authority’s request first arrived on October 12. Two days later, our response to the application was issued. The Shin Bet’s treatment of the application was executed quickly and irreproachably.”

Miri Weingarten
European Advocacy Officer
B’Tselem – HaMoked – Physicians for Human Rights-Israel
+44 7772209285
Skype: miri.weingarten

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