Ali Watad, aged 15, from Jatt, arrived at Hillel Yaffe Medical Center’s Emergency Room unable to stand on his own and with his brother carrying him. Director of the Pediatrics Department, Dr. Adi Klein, who admitted the boy, noticed immediately that this was an unusual case and sent him for an urgent MRI scan. The scan showed a spinal cord hemorrhage caused by the unexplained rupturing of a small arteriole, which had led to paralysis of the lower half of the boy’s body. Ali was quickly brought to the operating room so as to drain the bleeding, and was operated on by Dr. Eyal Behrbalk, a specialist in the spine and Director of the Orthopedics A department at Hillel Yaffe. Three days after the surgery, Ali could stand up, something that Dr. Behrbalk defines as extremely rare.
“The professional literature discusses that up until 2012, only some 100 cases had been reported worldwide of spontaneous spinal cord hemorrhage,” explains Dr. Behrbalk. “This case is even rarer, since it concerns an adolescent, who was previously healthy, without any genetic or vascular diseases or coagulation disorders. In the literature, the vast majority of the cases speak of spontaneous bleeding caused by previously known vascular diseases.”
Dr. Eyal Behrbalk with Ali on the day he was released from hospital
Mohamed, Ali’s brother, related: “In the middle of the night, Ali felt he had thrown his back out. In the morning he complained about numbness in his feet. A few hours later, the numbness had already spread to his knee and I understood something bad and unusual was happening. I decided to to go to the Emergency Room, and at the entrance Ali already couldn’t stand up. We were lucky that the Hillel Yaffe staff worked quickly, and immediately sent him for a scan, after which Ali was taken straight to the operating room.”
The day after his surgery, Ali already began to move his feet, and three days later he got out of bed and took his first steps. Dr. Behrbalk concludes, “There are few cases like this one, ending without any damage. After complete paralysis of the lower half of the body, there is very little chance of being able to stand again, due to damaged neurons that cannot renew themselves. In the majority of cases, the person remains partially paralyzed. Coming quickly to the hospital, the prompt diagnosis, and the urgent surgery are, undoubtedly, a significant part of the reason that Ali could leave here “on his own two feet”. I am happy we were part of this.”