The only way is ethics: Two Israeli doctors discuss medical dilemmas at Eton

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The only way is ethics: Two Israeli doctors discuss medical dilemmas at Eton

Doctors Ofer Merin and Fayez Khatib offer unique insights into moral problems they face when tackling natural disasters abroad.

Dr Fayez Khatib talking at Eton College on Sunday
Dr Fayez Khatib talking at Eton College on Sunday

Two leading Israeli practitioners braved icy temperatures to offer their unique insights into healthcare during a memorable talk at Eton College.

At the event, which was hosted by Lord Winston and Eton College Interfaith Forum, pupils and parents heard from Dr Ofer Merin,
a leading cardiovascular surgeon and head of trauma at Shaare Zedek Medical Center (SZMC), who spoke movingly about the dilemmas Israeli medical professionals face when tackling natural disasters abroad.

“During the Haiti earthquake in 2010, there were 300,000 injured people. It is impossible to treat everyone so you must make difficult choices,” he explained. “You have to think in terms of manpower, logistics, medical supplies and ethics.”

Merin noted that ethical dilemmas were often the most burdensome on physicians in the field.

Dr Ofer Merin at February’s Jewish News’ Night of Heroes

He outlined the need to find a balance between “utilitarianism and egalitarianism”, alongside individual and collective rights, when deciding who to treat and what level of intervention to undertake.

SZMC is Jerusalem’s fastest-growing hospital, caring for more than 750,000 people annually. Renowned for its groundbreaking treatments, it recently installed the world’s first MRI machine built for the imaging of premature babies.

Dr Fayez Khatib, an Arab-Israeli senior consultant gynaecologist and director of the ambulatory gynaecology unit at SZMC, led a discussion on the influence of faith on medicine.

“Sometimes we witness how faith and medicine clash, both for patients and practitioners,” he said.

“This is frequently the case when dealing with IVF, pregnancy terminations and  foetal reductions. It is important
to act sensitively in such

A lively Q&A followed, with topics including pastoral care for healthcare staff, Israeli field hospitals in Syria and the impact of America’s decision to recognise Jersualem as the capital of Israel.

Simi Ben Hur, executive director of Shaare Zedek UK, said: “We are delighted to have had the opportunity to partner with Eton College for this special event.

“Bringing together families of different faiths through the life-saving and groundbreaking work of our hospital shows the important role Shaare Zedek plays in a hopeful future for Jerusalem, Israel and the world.”

Speaking at the event, headmaster Simon Henderson said: “Providing opportunities for boys of different faiths is a core part of what we offer here.

“In the modern world, it is important to set out principles of working together as a means of solving the world’s problems.”


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