Kimberly Winkler suffers strong headaches during 10-day trip, is found to have life-threatening aneurysm • Delicate operation precedes weeks in hospital • She regains motor and communication skills • Grateful father says he cannot thank hospital enough.
By Yori Yalon, ISRAEL HAYOM
Kimberly Winkler, a University of Minnesota student from the Dominican Republic, owes her life to the staff at the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem.
Winkler came to Israel as a participant in the Taglit-Birthright Israel program, but almost died of a brain aneurysm during what was supposed to be a 10-day trip. Towards the end of her trip, she began suffering from severe headaches, and felt so unwell she had to miss the Friday night Shabbat meal.
“I stayed in the hotel with my friend Hunter, hoping that I would get better, but my situation only worsened,” she said. Hunter called her father, Dr. Grant Winkler, who happens to be an eye doctor. He told Hunter to “get some help.” At the same time, Winkler began having convulsions, and an ambulance was called and transferred her to the hospital.
“She was in really bad shape,” senior neurosurgeon Guy Rosenthal, the head of the Neurosurgery Department’s intensive care unit, told Israel Hayom.
“She had a ruptured aneurysm that was bleeding profusely. This was a life-threatening condition,” Rosenthal said.
Upon hearing the news, Winkler’s parents and sisters took the first flight to Israel. They were worried time was running out and prepared to say goodbye.
Professor Jose Cohen, a senior neurosurgeon, performed the delicate operation to save Winkler’s life. He inserted aneurysm clips, spring-like objects that isolate the affected area from normal circulation without damaging the surrounding blood vessels.
“I was shocked when I saw her; she wasn’t moving,” her mother, Miriam Winkler, told Israel Hayom.
“I couldn’t tell if she was the same girl that used to play volleyball and dance to jazz music.”
Cohen said “everyone was surprised she was still alive.” He said the CAT scan prior to surgery showed massive damage, and Winkler was ultimately operated on three times.
“She was very lucky to be close to Hadassah,” her father said. “She could have been at Masada or the Sea of Galilee. But what is certain is that if this happened in our country [the Dominican Republic], she would have not survived.”
Winkler underwent a long rehabilitation process, spending several weeks in hospital, where, with the help of the hospital staff, she managed to regain her motor and communication skills. There was not a dry eye left in the room when she eventually said, “Dad, I love you.” Last week, she returned home.
“I can’t thank Hadassah enough,” her father told Israel Hayom. “They gave us Kimberly back.”