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Saying Thank You 13 Years Later
This past Monday evening, United Hatzalah volunteer and Rehovot resident Micha Shulem walked into one of the shuls in the city to daven Maariv and noticed a man from the corner of his eye looking intensely at him. At the end of the tefillah, the man walked over to Micha and said, “You performed CPR on my infant son 13 years ago. Two weeks ago we celebrated his Bar Mitzvah. I want to say thank you.”
On Wednesday, Micha was reunited with Schneur Levin the father and Yisroel Levin the Bar Mitzvah boy whose life he saved 13 years prior.
The story transpired in the family home when Yisroel was just a few weeks old. He weighed just 1.5 kilograms and apparently swallowed a small object that blocked his airway. He choked and very quickly turned blue. The family called emergency services for help, and Micha, who lived on the same street at the time rushed over.
Schneur recounted that “Micha arrived very quickly together with another volunteer Yehuda Frankel. The two of them performed CPR on my son and then a bit later the ambulance arrived and took him to the hospital.”
Micha recounted what happened from his perspective. “We removed some substances from the baby’s mouth and performed CPR in order to return the baby to breathing properly once again. This was an incredibly delicate CPR. Until a person holds a baby this small it is difficult to understand just how fragile they are and that any small movement can cause damage to the baby’s spine or ribs. The lungs are the size of a very tiny bag. It isn’t a normal situation.”
Schneur and Micha generally don’t pray in the same shul and haven’t seen each other in the past 13 years. “My wife said that she saw Micha somewhere in the city recently,” Schneur said. “When I saw him in shul, I knew I had to go over and say hello and tell him about the story. It is a way of recognizing what he did for us by sharing our happiness with him,”
Micha added: “It was a bit awkward for me because Schneur was staring at me throughout the entire prayer and I was wondering who this person is. When he ran up to me after the prayer service I told him that if it is important we can talk. He told me his name and I didn’t remember the story. Then he told me I saved his premature infant son. That is what jogged my memory and I was in shock that he remembered me and that I was now meeting him again so unexpectedly.”
“I was overjoyed to hear about the boy’s Bar Mitzvah,” Micha continued. “These are the types of stories that leave first responders with a sense of euphoria. Hearing about a person whose life you’ve saved so many years later gives me a lot of motivation to keep responding to emergencies whenever and wherever they happen. When I walked out of shul, I stopped on the sidewalk for a few moments, looked up, and thanked G-d. These are the moments that give so much meaning to our lives. When a person says to me, ‘Do you see that child? Because of you, he is alive today.’ That makes everything we go through as volunteer first responders worth it.”
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