MDA’s Wish Ambulance Fulfils Dream for 7-year-old Capt. Rafael Yotam

About four years ago, Rafael Yotam Cohen, who has cancer, fulfilled a dream using an MDA Wish Ambulance by flying in an MDA-Lahak emergency helicopter in the southern skies of the country. Recently, Rafael Yotam’s rare illness sadly returned for the third time, so his old friends at MDA returned once more to give him a day full of experiences upon a naval ship

The Magen David Adom Wish Ambulance project began volunteering in 2009, and to this day has managed to fulfil the wishes of thousands of critically ill patients. Recently they have been using a newly modified wish ambulance which was donated via the MDA Friends Society in Melbourne, Australia (headed by Ms. Glynis Lipson). Rafael Yotam’s wish was the first to be fulfilled through the new vehicle.

The fulfillment of Rafael Yotam’s first wish about 4 years ago had a positive effect on his medical condition, which coincided with an improvement in his health. Following this, Rafael Yotam’s mother, Ravit Cohen, decided to take an active part in the fundraising campaign for a new ambulancem, and even participated in a campaign in Australia.

Rafael Yotam at the helm

The Cohen family contacted MDA and told them of Rafael Yotam’s dream — and the organisation immediately joined the mission to help bring it to realisation. About a week ago, Rafael Yotam (7-and-a-half-year’s-old), a resident of Neta in the Lachish region, and the youngest of seven siblings, fulfilled his dream.

He arrived by MDA’s new Wish Ambulance at the naval base in Ashdod, where officers and fighters of one of the Navy’s Shaldag-class patrol ships were waiting for him with excitement and special refreshments and surprises.

As part of the special day, Rafael Yotam met the soldiers and officers of the navy, received an explanation about the ship and the weapons placed in it, and even set sail while sitting in the Captain’s chair and holding the rudder.

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter type includes full intensive care mobile equipment, the first and only electric bed of its kind in Israel adapted for critically ill patients, and a specialised refrigerator for medicine.

Rafael en route with his mother and paramedics Tomer Bar-Levi, Shachar Hezkelevich, and Yonat Daskal-Dagan in MDA’s new Wish Ambulance

The compartments in the ambulance are hidden, in order to reduce the level of stress among the passengers and simulate normal driving conditions. The ambulance includes a place for the driver, two staff members, a patient, and three accompanying family members.

This first wish in the new ambulance was accompanied by paramedics Tomer Bar-Levi and Shachar Hezkelevich, as well as paramedic Yonat Daskal-Dagan who accompanied Rafael Yotam also on his first wish.

Yonat remarked: “I am doubly excited, both from the fulfilment of Rafael Yotam’s wish and the launch of the new ambulance.’

“When we set out on a [fundraising] journey in Australia, Yotam recovered after the first wish. We were very saddened to hear that he was ill again.’

“We created a special day in order to put a smile on his face, at least for a few moments. I thank the Navy for enlisting in the special mission and we wish him a complete recovery and full health.”

Ravit Cohen, Rafael Yotam’s mother, said: “Already at the fulfilment of the first wish, we became very connected to the MDA family and the staff of the Wishes ambulance and we remained in close contact.’

“After Rafael Yotam recovered, I flew to Australia to promote donations to MDA’s new ambulance, and to my delight the donations were successfully raised.’

“We asked him what he would like to do and he answered: “to sail a ship.” MDA immediately organised the special day with the Navy, which was charming and extraordinary.’

“The experience was amazing — the soldiers hugged us and were cordial and prepared special gifts for Rafael Yotam. He was happy and excited, and told everyone who het met about the past experience.”

On the fulfilment of the special dream, Rafael Yotam concluded: “I had a lot of fun, and I want to be a captain now. I wander around the house all day with the flag I received from the soldiers, like Superman. Thank you all.”