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Giving birth in Bethlehem: No more mangers

This month Sawsan Mubarak gave birth to a daughter in her hometownof Bethlehem. Unlike the Virgin Mary, Mubarak delivered her daughter ina comfortable setting: Bethlehem’s Holy Family Hospital. <p></p>

This month Sawsan Mubarak gave birth to a daughter in her hometown of Bethlehem. Unlike the Virgin Mary, Mubarak delivered her daughter in a comfortable setting: Bethlehem’s Holy Family Hospital.

“I’m Christian, and it’s nice for me to be in a Christian hospital,” Mubarak — a professor of social sciences at Al-Quds Open University — tells Metro. “But my Muslim colleagues, too, think it’s the best hospital. And the staff cares for everyone.”

HFH delivers two-thirds of all babies in the district of Bethlehem, some 3,300 babies per year. And for many Palestinians, HFH is the only option: It has the Bethlehem region’s only neonatal unit.

“In the past, doctors would send premature babies to Jerusalem,” explains Dr. Robert Tabash, HFH’s director and a Bethlehem native. “But now there’s a wall. Premature babies would die on the way.”

As a result, HFH’s all-Palestinian staff annually delivers 450 premature babies (about 17 percent of the hospital’s patients come from outside the Bethlehem area). Even though the cost — $450 a day for neonatal care — is low by international standards, the hospital has trouble raising money.

Money aside, Mubarak is certain that she, her husband and their two sons will have the best Christmas of their lives.

 
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