Timing Is Everything for Hadassah's Director of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Dr. Asnat Walfisch earned her MD at the Ben Gurion University in Israel. She completed her residency in OBGYN at "Sheba" Tel Hashomer Medical Center and  fellowship in Feto-maternal Medicine at Toronto University. She is currently the Director of Hadassah Hospital's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Mt. Scopus. As a physician and the director of a High-Risk Pregnancy Unit, she treats women suffering from various placenta related pregnancy complications. Her research is devoted to both clinical as well as epidemiological and basic science aspects of the pathological human placenta. She has published multiple papers focusing on different aspects of the morbid placenta as well as epidemiological studies focused on different associations between pregnancy complications and long term health of the mother and offspring.

Dr. Asnat Walfisch bursts through the door and into her office to record this episode. She's a bundle of energy — with smiles and hugs and even offering snacks to our host Benyamin Cohen. The room immediately becomes a comfortable space. This is how she treats every day.

Her goal? To relieve anxiety. Whether she's meeting a podcast host for the first time or helping deliver a baby from high-risk pregnancy, Dr. Walfisch wants everyone to feel comfortable. After all, she's acutely aware of what her patients are going through. Nearly two decades ago, when she herself was in labor with her first child, the doctors informed her she would have to undergo an emergency C-section.

"I remember how I was shaking when they took me, when they ran with me to the operating theater," she tells us on this month's episode. "I remember the anxiety. I remember what I felt, the helplessness. The doctors that were with me, they held my hand, and they looked in my eyes. They told me that they were going to take care of me, and I remember how that made me feel. I stopped shaking. So, whenever I take a woman to a Cesarean section, I remember how I felt, and I try to do the things that helped me when I was in that situation."

A graduate of Ben-Gurion University in southern Israel, Dr. Walfisch has been the director of the OB-GYN department at Hadassah Hospital's Mount Scopus campus since January 2019. In this relatively short amount of time, she has had plenty of opportunities to "pay it forward" — as she specializes in high risk pregnancies, and treats women suffering from various placenta related pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia, preterm delivery and fetal growth restriction.

In addition to her work with patients — which often includes long, overnight shifts — Dr. Walfisch spends countless hours on her own research as well. In particular, as you'll hear on this episode, she has figured out the exact best date for women to have a C-section.

Besides being offered good vibes and snacks, visitors to her office will also notice something else. Her walls are covered with photos of the babies she's helped deliver. Which is why she treats every day like it's the first day of someone's life. As she sums it up: "Sometimes there's such an overwhelming feeling when everything is okay and when the baby's born and when you hear the first cry, and you think to yourself, 'Wow, I have the best profession in the world.'

Further reading:
Revolutionary research uncovers relationship between a child's long-term health and early-term birth
Early birth may raise risk of heart problems in children and teens

This month:
January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month and January 5 - 11, 2020 is National Folic Acid Awareness Week. These observances provide an opportunity to bring awareness about the causes and prevention of congenital disabilities.

Read a transcript of this episode.

"Hadassah On Call: New Frontiers in Medicine" is a production of Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America. Hadassah enhances the health of people around the world through medical education, care and research innovations at the Hadassah Medical Organization. For more information on the latest advances in medicine please head over hadassah.org.

Subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, or your favorite podcast app. If you haven't already, please leave us a review on the iTunes store. It only takes a minute and when you do it helps others discover "Hadassah on Call."

The show is hosted by Benyamin Cohen and edited by Skyler Inman and the team at the Hadassah offices in both New York and Israel.

This episode includes promotions for:

Hadassah Israel Travel
Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America takes several trips to Israel every year and guess what; you're invited. The trips for 2020 are already filling up. The trip in March trip will unmask the country's vibrant art scene, an April trip will celebrate Yom Ha'atzmaut - Israel's Independence Day, a trip in May will tour Israeli wineries and dine in some of the Mediterranean's finest restaurants, a June trip will showcase Israel's music scene, and an August one will be dedicated to exploring the country's vast archeological sites. If this sounds like "a can't miss opportunity" to you, head on over to hadassah.org/israeltravel for more info and to explore the full calendar of trips and itineraries.


The Branch
This podcast offers a glimpse into the everyday lives of Jews and Arabs in Israel forging meaningful relationships. Presented by Hadassah and hosted by Dina Kraft, "The Branch" shines a light on the stories of people living the example of a shared society. Together. Even though it's complicated. hadassah.org/thebranch

We'd love to know your thoughts, questions, and stories! Send us an email anytime at marketing@hadassah.org.

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