News from Israel: POW founded Rehabilitation Unit
Prof. Avi Ohri, who founded the Rehabilitation Unit at the Reuth Rehabilitation Hospital and is currently the Director of Academic Training in the Rehabilitation Division and Chairman of the Helsinki Institutional Ethics Committee - returns to the inferno of the Yom Kippur War and the 50 days of captivity in Cairo. "I remember everything clearly as if it had not been 45 years. A minute before I got on the taxi from Sinai on my way home, I was asked to go to a certain stronghold for two days, because there was no doctor there, so I agreed. Who knew war would break out? I arrived at the military base on midday Friday. It was burning hot and completely silent: Soldiers stood praying in a temporary structure, some of them asleep. But half an hour later, the war began with such a loud sound and horrible fire and I immediately found myself treating the wounded.
We lasted four days in a bunker until I was captured. After a day we ran out of water, all the time scared to death, because every minute someone around us was killed. My medical equipment was running out and everything was shaking around us. I also had responsibility for the wounded commander in the bunker and I had to remain optimistic. On the third night, in one of the heavy bombardments, all my comrades in the bunker were killed. I woke up covered with ash, and with the last of my strength I crawled out. I was surrounded by horrific sights of war, and started walking away. An Egyptian vehicle passing by stood in front of me and a line of soldiers came out with their weapons drawn. I was sure it was it for me. I shouted at them 'I'm a doctor' but they did not care. As in the legends, an Egyptian jeep emerged with an officer, brought me water, and from there they transferred me to the city of Cairo.
My 50 days in captivity were filled with tiring interrogations. They thought I was a pilot and I could not prove that I wasn't. Toward the end of the captivity, I helped to treat the wounded Israeli prisoners until my release on 19th November. At the end of the war, after I returned to Israel, I treated the disabled soldiers. They accepted me as one of their own, and the rehabilitation profession became my life's work.Rehabilitation medicine allows us to look at the person as a whole, while interacting with other treatment factors. Rehabilitation for me is the opportunity to overcome the barriers and teach people to live despite the limitations. Rehabilitation is one of man's greatest achievements, a real victory of man and one of my important lessons from the war - a person has latent abilities and potential hidden from the eye. Our job in Reuth is to teach our people how to exploit them