Like many other 21st-century mothers, Gaza resident Nourhan enjoyed recording her baby’s every move. Flipping through the photos on her cell phone, she noticed an unusual white stain in her daughter Mayar’s eye.

After numerous visits to ophthalmologists, the family received the horrifying news that Mayar had retinoblastoma, a rare eye cancer that largely affects young children. In those early months after the cancer was diagnosed, Nourhan recalls, every doctor came up with the same answer: There is nothing we can do. The cancer is aggressive and Mayar can’t be helped. The solution is to remove the eye.

”We were devastated,” Nourhan says. Undeterred, however, Mayar’s parents continued to search for a different answer. That’s when they learned about the Hadassah Medical Organization.

Prof. Shahar Frankel, one of Hadassah’s ophthalmologists, met Mayar when she was nine months old. “She couldn’t see out of her eye because the tumour was right at its centre, and it occupied about half the eye’s volume,” says Prof. Frankel. “Mayar required immediate treatment to save her eye.”

Within three days, Prof. Jose Cohen, director of the Endovascular Neurosurgery and Stroke Unit, together with his team performed an intra-arterial chemotherapy procedure, which enables a catheter to reach the tumour directly and focus the chemotherapy. The procedure shrunk the tumour, but some of the tumour cells had scattered. This “tumour cloud” required further treatment. For months, Prof. Frankel and Prof. Jacob Peer, head of Hadassah’s Onco-Ophthalmology Department, injected chemotherapy directly into Mayar’s eye.

Nine months later when Nourhan returned with Mayar for a check-up, Prof. Frankel relates, “We were delighted to tell them that the treatment had been successful. The tumour cells had died and calcified, the scattered tumour cells had disappeared and Mayar could see with that eye.”

“It’s impossible to describe the emotions we experience and the satisfaction we derive when we give this type of news to a family,” comments Prof. Frankel. “Beyond that, and no less important, I firmly believe that we, the team here at Hadassah, not only save sight and heal complicated medical conditions but we also serve as a bridge between peoples. We bridge differences and disagreements with our neighbours.”