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APF: Helping to shape Israel’s future medical leaders.

With each transplant surgery, APF Fellow Dr. Yaron Barac is born again.

“Seeing the heart start to beat or the lungs inflate and turn pink after transplant is like seeing the creation of the world every time … from scratch. It’s like the rise of the sun over the darkness of space. It’s a first breath-taking, heart-beating moment every time for me!” he says.

The 41-year-old Jerusalem native is a 2016-2017 APF Clinical Fellow in Duke University’s Heart Failure Program as well as aortic surgery in Durham, N.C. He specializes in heart and lung transplants and in implanting “technological solutions to heart failure, as well as in aortic surgery,” he says.

Before he left Israel he was an attending cardiothoracic surgeon at Rabin Medical Center in Petach Tikva (near Tel Aviv). There his experience with transplanting organs and surgically implanting assistive devices, including artificial hearts, was limited.

“I will be part of the group at Rabin leading heart failure patient care in Israel. (Including Barac, the team will now feature two surgeons with his training.) In Israel, I will be making these surgical experiences more widely available and will also bring novel methods and knowledge into this field at home.”

Barac says this new field is a subspecialty that has grown up due to the rapid expansion of both the population of patients with heart failure and of diagnostic and therapeutic options for their management.

“The one-year survival rate with optimal medical therapy only is about 25 percent in patients with advanced heart failure and the two-year survival is less than 10 percent; with heart transplantation, the one-year survival rate is about 90 percent and 85 percent at two years.”

It’s a very very demanding job. Sometimes Barac goes without seeing his family for two days at a time or more. There are only two fellows, so he is on call at least 50 percent of the time. “That means, 24/7, I may be called for whatever is needed for transplant.”

Barac takes pride in the hard work and training he has received here in the U.S. But as great as the experience has been for he and his family, he knows that his training is ultimately going to help him when he returns to practice in Israel.

“I will be part of the group at Rabin leading heart failure patient care in Israel. (Including Barac, the team will now feature two surgeons with his training.) In Israel I will be making these surgical experiences more widely available and will also bring novel methods and knowledge into this field at home…”  [Read more of Dr. Barac story here]

The APF Fellowship Program

Today, Israel has a ratio of just 3.1 doctors for every 100 people. Likewise only, 6.8 people per 1000 graduate with medical studies degrees. Both statistics put Israel near the bottom among the 36 nations surveyed by the OECD and are indicators of a significant shortage of qualified physicians throughout the country. This shortage of doctors adds to Dr. Alshiek’s remarkable story, and is one of the reasons APF has committed to our Fellowship Program.

Shaping Future Leaders

Since our founding in1951, APF has played a significant role in helping to develop more than 1500 fellows like Dr. Barac who have gone on to be part of the next generation of Israel’s healthcare leaders. It is only through the generosity and commitment of our members and supporters that we are able to continue this program as a tangible answer to the shortage of physicians facing the people of Israel.

By joining APF – for less than 65 cents a day – you will become part of a unique organization of healthcare professionals who are committed to helping Israeli physicians learn advanced clinical and research techniques that they can bring to medically underserved areas throughout Israel.  Your membership includes exclusive travel, educational and professional opportunities that are exclusive to APF members. And your support helps ensures that we have strong, skilled and competent leaders who will drive Israel’s healthcare forward.

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