A miracle as Raphi goes home

  • RaphiBlatt
On 8 May, three-year-old Raphi Blatt was allowed to go home after undergoing neurosurgery for skull and brain injuries after a freak accident on 19 April.
by TALI FEINBERG | May 21, 2020

“The speed and extent of his recovery has been an absolute miracle,” says his father, Eddy Blatt.

His son underwent surgery, a stay in intensive care, and rehabilitation, all in the midst of the restrictions of the coronavirus outbreak. Hundreds of people around the globe prayed for his well-being.

“It was such a relief. There were no regrets about taking him home, and in hindsight, he should probably have come home sooner, but the situation didn’t allow for it,” says Eddy.

“We are all overjoyed to have him home. He is in his element finally to be with his family, in his space, with his own things.”

It’s not always easy. Like most other toddlers, “Raphi is a handful, and gives us a hard time looking after him. He is a typical boy, and doesn’t accept any limitations!” says Eddy. “But this is a blessing in itself, and our hearts are full to have our little boy home.”

With Raphi’s accident occurring during the coronavirus lockdown, the family had to face unthinkable choices on top of an already terrifying situation. “At the time that Raphi was transferred from high care to the normal ward, he couldn’t walk yet, and we didn’t know the extent of the rehabilitation that he would require. We wanted him to get the best rehab available, so we had him transferred to a rehabilitation centre where he would be assessed and treated intensively in an inpatient-treatment programme,” says Eddy.

“However, the rehabilitation centre decreased visitation rights because of coronavirus, which limited the amount of time we had to see and be with Raphi. As his parents, we had to weigh up the benefit of keeping him there as an in-patient without the love of his family, versus the benefit of taking him home where he could be with his family and be treated on an outpatient basis.

“In hindsight, it was the best decision we could have made [to take him home]. Although Raphi will need ongoing therapy, his recovery has been astounding, and there was no good reason to keep him away from his family any longer as an in-patient. His recovery at home has been excellent. There is no replacement for the love, support, and compassion you get from your own family.”

For Raphi’s mother, Leeat, bringing Raphi home was extremely emotional. Being pregnant and under strict visitation rules during lockdown, she had hardly seen her son since he went into hospital.

“I was very excited, but at the same time very nervous to see Raphi for the first time,” she says. “As a mother, you never want to see something wrong with your child, and when I saw that he couldn’t use his left arm, amongst other setbacks, it really upset me. It was difficult to accept and process.

“Raphi is a smart child, and he took a bit of time to warm up to me. I could tell that he felt that I had abandoned him for some reason, which he was obviously still trying to work out for himself. But once we took him home, he adjusted quickly, and was back to his affectionate self,” she says.

“If you didn’t know Raphi, and didn’t see the plaster or scar on his head, you probably wouldn’t know that anything was wrong.

“We have only recently started his outpatient rehabilitation programme, and it’s still too soon to tell how much treatment he will need and for how long,” he says. “While we have come a long way, the journey isn’t over. We still have to deal with a number of challenges on an ongoing basis, such as making sure he doesn’t hurt his head where the injury occurred.

“As with any traumatic brain injury, Raphi will always be at a higher risk of certain conditions than someone who hasn’t suffered this [trauma]. Going forward, it will be important for us to make sure that he reaches all his developmental milestones, and has the best foundation and building blocks for each stage of his development.”

From the moment Raphi’s accident occurred, the community rallied behind him and his family, and this support has continued. “The community has been amazing. Within a short amount of time, there were tehillim groups praying for Raphi around the world, and donations for meal plans were set in motion,” says Eddy.

“We were told that the numbers of people praying for Raphi had reached the hundreds of thousands. The community baked challah, held “Amen” parties and shiurim, and performed many other mitzvot in Raphi’s honour. We still receive gifts for Raphi at our door. We believe that all our prayers around the world were answered, and Hashem granted us this miracle.

“As a family, we couldn’t be happier to have Raphi home. He is such a special little soul, and such a little joker,” Eddy says. “With Raphi at home, our hearts are full. Due to the severity of the injury and the ongoing risks that could, G-d forbid, arise at any time, we ask you to keep him in your prayers. May Raphael Meir ben Leeat be blessed with a speedy refuah shelema (full recovery) that will keep him safe till 120! Amen.”

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