GERMANA BASSO, FROM PATIENT TO ROLE MODEL
Germana Basso is a volunteer at ALYN Hospital. At 22-years-old, she has completed her service in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and will soon be entering medical school at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Another piece of her life story is that she spent much of her first six years of life receiving rehabilitation at ALYN Hospital.
Due to complications during her birth, Germana’s shoulder was pulled and she sustained a serious injury to the nerves of her shoulder, leading to considerable paralysis in her right arm. After a number of surgeries, Germana came to ALYN Hospital for rehabilitation, where she underwent physiotherapy treatments several times a week until the age of six.
Germana shared that, while the treatment was hard, "I have many good memories. The most amazing thing about my time in ALYN was that I really enjoyed it! I didn’t feel like I was being treated or undergoing rehabilitation. It was full of games and a whole world of activities and experiences. I remember a sense of curiosity of ‘what are we going to do in the treatment this time?’"
In March 2021, Germana started volunteering in ALYN Hospital’s Bayit Cham for children on chronic ventilation who have completed their rehabilitation process but whose families are unable to look after them at home.
“I really feel like I’ve come full circle,” says Germana about her current experience as a volunteer at ALYN. "I feel I have hit the jackpot! I can really relate to the children and teenagers with different disabilities. I'm not only here to volunteer, I'm on a mission - to share my life experience with the children and teenagers who are experiencing the same challenges that I went through."
She continues, "I cannot straighten my arm, I cannot lift my hair or tie my shoes. People treat me in an unusual way because of my arm. I felt crippled, different. Even in the army, someone once shook my hand and asked me, ’What is this toy?’ It was horrible.”
Germana decided it was important to educate her fellow soldiers rather than to remain silently offended. She invited teenagers with physical challenges who were undergoing rehabilitation in ALYN to come to the base to share their stories with her unit. Danny Wasa, a resident of ALYN Hospital’s Independent Living Neighborhood for young adults on chronic ventilation, accepted her invitation and came to the base using his powered wheelchair, a ventilator and other necessary equipment.
" Danny's talk showcased how much ALYN promotes independence and quality of life for its children. Danny spoke about the first time he got his powered wheelchair, and how he was so excited because it allowed him to get around on his own, without being pushed by a caregiver. Many of us were brought to tears from his story."
After her service in the IDF, Germana decided to return to ALYN as a volunteer to be a role model to children and teens with disabilities.
"Today I know that paralysis is an integral part of who I am. I love myself, which I could not say in high school. I want to be the one who gives the tools to others for a better quality of life. This time I have come to ALYN to model that disability doesn't have to change your destiny."
Not only has Germana’s experience at ALYN Hospital influenced her to will to volunteer, but she has also decided, after receiving outstanding psychometric results, to pursue a career in medicine. She will soon be entering medical school at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
"Because of ALYN, I have a dream of studying medicine. I am planning to start medical school next month. As they say at ALYN: Turn your disability into ability!"