JERUSALEM (Jan. 15)
Many of the Israeli POWs who returned from Egypt suffered extensive muscle damage indicating physical injury to the captives, doctors at the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center reported at the Hadassah mid-winter conference here today. Mrs. Faye L. Schenk, national Hadassah Medical Organization chairman. In presenting the report at the medical session said the Israel Defense Ministry Medical Corps is at present analyzing tests provided by Hadassah of blood samples taken from about 200 POWs two or three days after they returned from Egypt. These findings, which had been analyzed in Hadassah’s Clinical Biochemistry Department, are being used as a basis for complaints to international authorities about the physical ill-treatment of the POWs.
More than 150 national leaders, representing 325,000 women in 1400 chapters and groups from the United States, including Puerto Rico, are attending the conference which began last night. Rose E. Matzkin, national president of Hadassah explained that the conference usually takes place in New York but was this year shifted to Israel.
The reason for this, she said at the opening meeting, was “to express solidarity with the Israeli people during these most trying of times.” Mrs. Matzkin said that Premier Golda Meir–if she recovers from her ailment while the conference is still in session–and members of the Cabinet will be among those addressing sessions on foreign and domestic affairs, Jewish survival education and culture.
Addressing the medical session at the Medical Center in Ein Karem, Mrs. Schenk said the outstanding finding was that a large percentage of POWs were showing abnormally and persistently high serum transaminase (SGOT) activity in their blood. The high activity of this enzyme in the circulation is a symptom of extensive muscle damage–the test is used, for instance, on persons who suffer a heart attack in order to estimate the extent of the damage to the heart muscle.
In the group of POWs from Egypt with abnormal findings, the serum transaminase activity was two to ten times higher than the normal range, and thus provided objective evidence corroborating the reports of physical injury among the captives, and the individual stories of POWs about their beatings. In one very severely beaten soldier, the level of serum transaminase activity was so high that it was beyond the range of the chart provided for the automatic analyzer and had to be repeated in a diluted specimen to obtain a valid result. High levels of serum transaminase activity in the blood can be found for up to one month after the actual occurrence to obtain a valid result.