December 10, 2008


I receive a monthly e-letter from Barbara Sofer of Hadassah. This story brought tears to my eyes. Dr. Melamed- Cohen is so right: no matter what life deals you, "Until the last moment, one has to live and rejoice and give thanks to the Creator."

The late Randy Pausch delivered the now internationally famous Last Lecture, at Carnegie Mellon University before he died at the age of 47. A lecture at the same level of wisdom was delivered recently at Hadassah's Ein Kerem campus. The speaker was Dr. Rachamim Melamed-Cohen, a writer and philosopher, who has suffered from ALS, (Lou Gehrig's disease) for more than 15 years. He's completely immobilized except for his eye muscles. But with technology, he can activate a computer with his eyes and type his thoughts. They are simultaneously translated into a voice-activation program. In the audience were Hadassah medical and nursing students and faculty, including his own doctor, Professor David Michael Linton, who has provided his respiratory care for nine years.

Dr. Melamed-Cohen reminded the future physicians and nurses that people in wheel chairs may be the height of ten-year olds, but they have the mental acuity of grown ups. They want to be acknowledged as more than their medical charts which only list their problems and not their life strengths. "I feel at times that God has allowed me to live in order to show the world that even in such a condition one can continue to be creative and contribute to society," he told the students. "Until the last moment, one has to live and rejoice and give thanks to the Creator."

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