A 12-year-old cancer-stricken Iranian boy arrived at an Israeli hospital on Friday for emergency treatment on his brain tumor.
The boy - who was identified only as Roy, to protect his privacy - was wheeled on a stretcher into the Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv, after treatments in Iran and Turkey failed. His face was puffy, apparently due to the drugs administered to ease his pain.
Israel granted the child a special permit to enter the country and he arrived at Ben Gurion Airport on Friday. The rare arrangement was mediated by an Israeli businessman of Iranian origin. The boy was accompanied to the hospital by his father and veiled mother, who were also granted special entry permits into Israel.
Iran and Israel are bitter enemies and have no formal relations. Iran's president has denied the Holocaust and repeatedly called for Israel to be wiped off the map.
Sheba CEO Zeev Rotstein said it wasn't the first time Israeli doctors have treated children from adversarial states.
"We hope that with the love and affection we give these kids we are paving the way for at least some understanding between people," he said. "We can't change the politics. We are not politicians. We do this because we feel it is our job."
Israel is home to world-class hospitals and state-of-the-art medical technology.
Dr. Amos Toren, head of Sheba's Pediatric Hemato-Oncology Department, said his initial diagnosis was that the boy's year- old growth was the most aggressive tumor that exists among brain tumors.
"He is conscious and he can smile but it is hard," he said. "We will give him the most modern treatment possible and maybe we will be able to help him."
Rotstein said the child had been operated on before and may need another procedure in Israel.
"There are very limited things you can do," he said. "But if this kid has any chance, it is here."
He said the hospital kept the identities of patients from countries hostile to Israel secret, so that they would not face danger upon their return home. Iran and several other Middle East countries oppose any type of normalization with Israel.
Rotstein said he hoped treatments, like those of Roy, would help break down some of those barriers.
"As far as we are concerned, we are not involved in politics," he said. "He is from a country that doesn't really like our existence here, but I think part of our job is to prove to countries like Iran that we are here to help the regular people."
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