EpiPen — Inventor’s Correct and Godly Attitude

By Kevin Smetana, Times Staff Writer
This obituary appeared in the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday, September 24, 2009

He led a normal, middle-class lifestyle. With a home in the suburbs and two modest cars in the garage, it’s not what you might expect from a man who had a hand in inventing a product bought by millions.

For Sheldon Kaplan, that was just fine.

Mr. Kaplan was one of the inventors of the EpiPen, an autoinjector that contains epinephrine, which is used to treat anaphylaxis. Basically, it’s a handheld device that saves people who are prone to fatal allergens.

Millions of EpiPen prescriptions have been filled over the years, according to the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. As an employee of the company that originally manufactured it, Mr. Kaplan never received royalties and few people connected the dots between him and the device.

“He was not famous; he was not wealthy,” said his son, Michael Kaplan, 35. “And I don’t think he would’ve liked to be. I don’t think he expected that.”

Experts praise the EpiPen, calling it a life-saving invention. It’s used in emergency situations and owned by those who are allergic to certain foods, like peanuts and eggs, or to bees and wasps.

The possibility of inadvertently coming into contact with an allergen is a dangerous reality for those at risk. Carrying an EpiPen makes some feel at ease, said Dr. Richard Lockey, an allergist and professor of medicine at the University of South Florida.

“They feel much more secure going out into the world and doing normal things as long as they have their epinephrine with them,” he said. “It improves the quality of life immensely for these patients.”

• • •

Mr. Kaplan landed a job as an engineer at NASA after graduating from Northeastern University in 1962. A few years later, he started working at Survival Technology in Bethesda, Md., where he would revolutionize the autoinjector.

He invented the ComboPen, a device that treated nerve-agent poisonings and was used in the military, his family said. He later manipulated the contraption to hold epinephrine, and the EpiPen was born.

Although the EpiPen went on to become a household name after its creation in the mid-1970s, Mr. Kaplan did not. His family says he was the lead engineer and inventor on the project. His name, along with three others, is on the patent. But he never owned it.

He was simply an employee who made a salary and followed orders.

“I don’t think that diminished the fact that he felt he had a legacy, that he made a difference,” Michael Kaplan said. “My dad was an extremely talented engineer, an analytical guy who delighted in solving technical issues.”

Just before the EpiPen hit the market, Mr. Kaplan left the company and moved on as a biomechanical engineer, developing medical equipment. He didn’t follow closely the EpiPen’s success.

“My husband was always looking for a new challenge, and he tended not to look backward,” said his wife, Sheila Kaplan, 64.

• • •

Last month [August 2009], Mr. Kaplan found out he had Hepatocellular carcinoma, a cancer of the liver. Not knowing it would be his last trip to see his dad, Michael Kaplan traveled from Iowa to visit his father in Clearwater, Florida, where the senior Mr. Kaplan lived since 2000.

Sheldon Kaplan’s illness quickly worsened, and on Monday [Sept. 21, 2009], he died at his home. He was 70. Before Sheldon Kaplan passed away, his son shared a story with him. The EpiPen had saved a close friend’s life, Michael told his father. And in the 1980s, it did the same for his mother-in-law, the son explained.

From the start of his career, Sheldon’s wife of 39 years said, he sought to help mankind.

“He achieved his life goal,” Sheila Kaplan said. “I don’t think many of us can say that, and I’m extremely proud of him.”

From Kaplan’s 2009 obituary
Sheldon Kaplan
Born: June 6, 1939.

Died: Sept. 21, 2009.

Survivors: Wife, Sheila (Potts) Kaplan; son, Michael Kaplan and wife, Bethany; sister, Phyllis Goldenberg; nieces and nephews.

The Future of Medicine is in Israel

The machine (on this 6-minute video) that the Israelis have created is a miracle and may be miles ahead of anything the U.S. has. The developer reports that it can cure many diseases and conditions without invasive surgery.

While the Islamic world is figuring out how to kill off the rest of world, the Israelis are working on saving all the world! There is no doubt that God blessed this little nation with knowledge way beyond normal technology.

ReWalk’s benefits go beyond ambulation, company says

The Times of Israel
By David Shamah, May 20, 2015

An early user of the Israeli-developed exoskeleton reports he has gotten healthier since using it — a pleasant side effect of being able to walk again

Radi Kauf wearing his ReWalk system (Photo credit: Courtesy)
Radi Kauf wearing his ReWalk system (Photo credit: Courtesy)

For quadriplegics, losing the use of their legs is not the end of their problems, according to ReWalk CFO Kevin Hirschberger.

“People with spinal cord injuries who are paralyzed below the waist have the same physical issues as everyone else, such as gaining weight if they eat too much and don’t exercise.

“With our ReWalk exoskeleton, patients can get the exercise their body needs, preventing severe conditions like heart problems, osteoporosis, kidney disease, and much more,” said Hirschberger.

Testifying to that was one of the first Israelis to be equipped with a ReWalk. Radi Kauf was an IDF soldier in the Second Lebanon War, and was severely injured by terrorist gunfire in 2006. Kauf, a member of Israel’s Druze community, was selected as a pioneer for ReWalks’s technology by Dr. Amit Gopher, inventor of the ReWalk who is himself a quadriplegic.

“There’s no question that I am a lot healthier with ReWalk than I would be otherwise,” said Kauf. “All the doctors say that a lack of exercise is an important — maybe the most important — factor in all sorts of diseases, from obesity to heart attacks. Many people around the world would benefit from ReWalk simply for the ability the system gives them to exercise, helping them to avoid other severe medical problems. I myself have experienced a significant improvement in my digestion, and I am able to go to the bathroom without a problem — which I was not able to previously.”

ReWalk allows independent, controlled walking similar to that of an able-bodied person, with computers and motion sensors doing the “heavy lifting.” The system controls movement using subtle changes in center of gravity, mimics natural gait and provides functional walking speed, enabling even paraplegics to move independently — and even to run marathons, like a paralyzed woman did in 2012.

The system has been extensively studied and tested in Israel, the US, and Europe, and is in use by people around the world who participated in ReWalks’ beta program. In addition to providing wearers with the ability to stand and walk independently, clinical studies show that using the ReWalk provides significant mental health benefits as well, with users having a much more positive self-image as they gain independence and control over their movements.

ReWalk was personally reviewed by US President Barack Obama on his visit to Israel in 2013. The system was part of a special exhibition called “Israeli Technology For a Better World” at the Israel Museum, which highlighted seven of Israel’s most important tech contributions.

Hirschberg and Kauf were speaking at the annual conference of Oppenheimer Israel, the local branch of the international investing organization. Speakers at the conference include top officials in some of Israel’s most successful start-ups and veteran companies, who give a rundown of what they do and how they make (or intend to make) money doing it. After the presentations, it was time for Q&A with some of Israel’s top investors — who spare no feelings with the probing and challenging queries they present.

Hirschberg himself had to answer some of those questions — specifically on how the company plans to expand its sales. So far, fewer than 100 systems have been sold around the world, a number that many in the investment community would be more than acceptable if ReWalk were still a start-up. But with the company going public last year with an initial valuation of nearly $400 million — twice what company officials believed they could raise on the NASDAQ stock exchange — ReWalk has obviously graduated from start-up status.

Not to worry, Hirschberg said; sales will materialize in due time, probably within the next five years, as a number of factors come together that should make it easier for the company to make money. Obviously, at $76,000, the ReWalk is too expensive for any except the most wealthy, but insurance companies are discovering that, despite its high price tag, ReWalks can save them money, said Hirschberg; the ReWalk’s return on investment in savings on treatment and medicine that lack of exercise costs is substantial; after just a few years, insurance companies find they pay less for the ReWalk system than for the treatment the secondary effects of paralysis bring on.

Rehab centers and hospital rehabilitation facilities are also an important market for ReWalk, said Hirschberg. “Ninety percent of all patients go to rehab, so we see those centers as natural customers for our technology. The opportunities are enormous.”

ReWalk is one of those great ideas that takes a bit of time to catch on, said Hirschberg — but when it does, the sky will be the limit. “Keep in mind that this technology is brand new, and that there are only a few companies that have developed exoskeletons like this — and currently, we are the only ones with FDA and European approval.”

That it will take the world time to get used to ReWalk is understandable, said Hirschberg; the idea of the paralyzed walking has never really been entertained before.

“For 2,000 years wheelchairs have not changed,” said Hirschberg. “When you consider the health benefits of the ReWalk, added to its ability to provide mobility to those who were unable to move on their own, and the increasing willingness of insurance companies to fund the systems, the opportunity is very strong.”

Israeli Neurosurgery Helps Violinist Regain Ability to Play -video


Naomi Elishuv. Photo: YouTube screenshot
Naomi Elishuv. Photo: YouTube screenshot

Israeli neurosurgeons at Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Center helped former world-renowned violinist Naomi Elishuv overcome hand tremors to regain the ability to perform, in a remarkable surgery that had Elishuv playing Mozart while they operated on her brain.

“This is the first time ever that I have performed brain surgery on a person who played the violin during the operation,” said Professor Itzhak Fried, Sourasky’s director of functional neurosurgery.

According to Fried, the surgeons implanted a brain pacemaker with electrodes in the area of Elishuv’s brain that was the source of the hand tremors which prevented her from playing, and the electrodes emitted impulses to suppress the tremors.

A YouTube video of the surgery shows Elishuv, a former Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra violinist, playing the violin pre-surgery with the hand tremors. The video then skips forward to show her playing the violin during the surgery while the neurosurgeons located the spot in her brain to implant the electrode.

“When we turned on the electric current, we saw the tremor melt away,” Fried said.

“It’s a shame that I didn’t know about this operation before,” said Elishuv, who was forced to give up playing the violin nearly two decades ago. “Now I’m going to live again.”

Watch Naomi Elishuv play Mozart before and during surgery below:

Israel to send supplies to Ebola-stricken West Africa

The Ebola virus. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
The Ebola virus. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Israel set to send equipment and medical supplies to Ebola-stricken West Africa
Posted on November 11, 2014

(JNS.org) The Israeli government is in the final stages of preparing to send much-needed equipment and medical supplies to the West African nations stricken by Ebola.

The shipment, which is leaving from the Israeli port city of Ashdod to the countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea, includes six cargo containers full of special equipment used to set up portable field hospitals.

“Each clinic consists of 20 beds and it’s a fully equipped clinic with beds, and with carts and treatment carts and oxygen and certain medications and protection gear,” Gil Heskel, the head of Mashav, Israel’s Agency for International Aid and Development, told Reuters.

Currently, the Israeli humanitarian group IsraAID is the only organization from the Jewish state operating in West Africa, where it provides training to healthcare workers to address the psycho-social impact of Ebola.

The Israeli government will put the West African countries in touch with Israeli aid groups in order to send more volunteers, doctors, and other medical staff from Israel. Aid will also be distributed to Cameroon and the Ivory Coast to prevent the disease from spreading there. The total cost of the assistance is approximately $314,000.

Israeli ‘Wrapping Paper’ Makes Bones Heal Faster–video

By Johanna Weiss, NoCamels.com

Israeli company Regenecure is developing an intelligent “wrapping paper” that enables broken bones to heal faster, more smoothly, and even compensate bone loss.

In medical terminology, this wrapping paper is called membrane implant. “Membranes in general are semi-selective materials, allowing certain materials to get through, but not others,” says CEO Moshe Tzabari.

When the Regenecure membrane is wrapped around the broken bone, it allows fluids to get through, but prevents cells, vigor, or soft tissue from getting to the bone. This feature is crucial for the healing process.

Tzabari explains: “If there is no barrier, soft tissue will infiltrate the wound and stop the bone from growing or make it grow in unintended ways.” The membrane implant is a transparent, thin-yet-strong material that looks like plastic wrap. However, the membrane is regenerative and can be sutured, drilled, and shaped into any geometrical form. Moreover, it attracts stem cells to grow and populate along the membrane surface.

The material, which comes from Germany, has been used in the past as a drug delivery system – to cover tablets that are not meant to dissolve in the stomach but only to take effect later. Michael Friedman, Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, discovered that the same material can be used to enable guided bone growth after fractures. The membrane implant can assist, and sometimes replace, traditional healing methods, he explains.

Comparative research has been done with sheep that suffered from fractures with high bone loss. Treated with splints only, these fractures never healed. With an additional bone-graft substitute, it took bones 28 weeks to heal. When the membrane implant was combined with the bone-graft substitute, complete healing took only 8–14 weeks.

When vets heard about the membrane implant, they started using the product in dogs and sheep.

In the dental field, the membrane implant will enable bone growth that is needed for teeth implants. Tzabari hopes the implant might even be used in cranial medicine, for example, to reconstruct face bones after serious accidents.

Israel-trained medical team responded to Boston attack

Emergency medicine doctor says grisly scene of marathon explosions reminiscent of terrorist bombings in the Middle East


A top emergency medicine doctor at a Boston hospital where many of the wounded from Monday’s bombing attack were being treated credited Israel with training the hospital’s first-response team and readying it to deal with mass-casualty incidents.

While briefing media hours after the devastating attack that killed three people and wounded over 100 others near the finish line of the Boston Marathon (see video above), Dr. Alasdair Conn said that the scene of the carnage and the horrific injuries sustained by the victims were reminiscent of “a bomb explosion that we hear about in the news in Baghdad or Israel, or some other tragic place in the world.”

Afterward he added, “About two years ago, in actual fact, we asked the Israelis to come across, and they helped us set up our disaster team so that we could respond in this kind of manner.”

Conn, who is the chief of emergency services at Massachusetts General Hospital, reported that six of the victims taken to his hospital were in critical condition, requiring resuscitation, and five others were in serious condition.

He said that all of the patients he had seen from the attack were spectators rather than runners.

Israeli Ultrasound — Incision-free Healing — video

First posted December 2012
Film made by Cadenza Film Productions

Technion alumnus, Visiting Prof. Yoav Medan (Biomedical Engineering) explains how focused ultrasound performs surgery without cutting; the operating room of the future will look very different from that of today, thousands of lives will be saved.

The Operating Room of the Future – InSightec – Dr. Kobi Vortman Technion Alumnus

Nigeria polio vaccinators shot dead


Nine female polio vaccinators have been killed in two shootings at health centres in northern Nigeria, police have told the BBC.

Nigeria is one of only three countries where polio is still endemic.
Nigeria is one of only three countries where polio is still endemic.

In the first attack in Kano, the polio vaccinators were shot dead by gunmen who drove up on a motor tricycle.

Thirty minutes later, gunmen targeted a clinic outside Kano city as the vaccinators prepared to start work.

Some Nigerian Muslim leaders have previously opposed polio vaccinations, claiming they could cause infertility.

On Thursday, February 7, a controversial Islamic cleric spoke out against the polio vaccination campaign, telling people that new cases of polio were caused by contaminated medicine.

Such opposition is a major reason why Nigeria is one of just three countries where polio is still endemic.

But this is believed to be the first time polio vaccinators have been attacked in the country.

Some Kano residents told the BBC’s Yusuf Yakasai in the city that other people injured in the first attack had been taken to hospital.

A health official confirmed to the BBC that those killed in the second attack in Hotoro were female health workers – there were earlier reports that people waiting at the clinic may have been among those shot.

Witnesses in Hotoro told the BBC that gunmen also approached the health centre using a motor tricycle.

Kano banned motorbikes from carrying passengers after a recent attack on the prominent Muslim leader, the emir of Kano.

Analysts believe that the attacks may have been the work of the militant Islamist group Boko Haram but it has not yet commented and no group has said that it carried out the attack.

The group — whose name translates as “Western education is forbidden” — says it is fighting to overthrow the government and impose sharia [Islamic law].

The group has been blamed for the deaths of some 1,400 people in central and northern Nigeria since 2010.

According to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, there were 121 cases of polio in Nigeria last year, compared to 58 in Pakistan and 37 in Afghanistan.

In the past month, polio workers have also been targeted and killed in Pakistan, where the Taliban have threatened anti-polio efforts — accusing health workers of working as U.S. spies, and alleging that the vaccine makes children sterile.

Hamas Leader’s Family Gets Israeli Medical Aid


Ismail Haniyeh turns to Israel when his family needs medical attention. (AP)

HAIFA, Israel – Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has no problem calling for the destruction of Israel and blaming it for attacks linked to his own party, but when his relative needs life-saving heart surgery, only Israeli doctors will do.

The stunning hypocrisy comes to light after five Hamas-backed terrorists allegedly killed 16 Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula that borders Gaza. Although evidence points to a Hamas-backed terror operation, Haniyeh inexplicably blamed it on Israel. The suspects were later killed by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) when they tried to cross the Kerem Shalom border.

“Israel is responsible, one way or another, for this attack to embarrass Egypt’s leadership and create new problems at the border, in order to ruin efforts to end the [Israeli] siege of the Gaza Strip,” Haniyeh claimed during in an interviews with the Hamas-run Al-Aqsa television.

Yet only a few months ago, the revelation that Ismail Haniyeh’s brother-in-law received a special permit from the Israeli government to travel into the Jewish State to receive life-saving heart surgery has come as something of a surprise.

Haniyeh’s sister Suhila’s husband suffered undisclosed heart problems four months ago that doctors in Gaza were unable to treat, according to Ynetnews.com. The stricken man and his wife were whisked to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva in central Israel, where he was treated, and some days later, the couple returned to Gaza.

“A person from the inner circle of the Hamas leadership did receive treatment at Beilinson Hospital,” an Israeli government source confirmed to FoxNews.com. “Although there are no diplomatic relations between Israel and Hamas, there are many occasions when requests for help based on purely medical decisions taken in Gaza are granted by Israel for humanitarian reasons.”

No one from Hamas was available for comment on the case.

Guy Inbar, spokesman for Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories told FoxNews.com that Israel routinely renders such humanitarian aid to Palestinians – when it is requested. “Approximately 115,000 Palestinian patients from the West Bank were treated in Israeli hospitals during 2011. Additionally, some 9500 permits were issued for Palestinians from Gaza to receive treatment”, he said.

The Palestinian Authority, which has received an average of $600 million in annual aid from the U.S., foots the bill for all medical treatment of Palestinians in Israeli hospitals.

But Haniyeh’s rhetoric against Israel may be coming at the expense of ailing Palestinians without ties to the leadership. In recent weeks there has been a notable decrease in the number of permits being requested by Gazans for medical treatment in Israel, prompting some regional observers to wonder if Haniyeh – who has repeatedly vowed not to rest until “Israel is wiped off the face of the map”- is now denying his own people the opportunity to benefit from Israeli medical help.

Ronen Bergman, an expert on Israeli intelligence affairs, told Fox News that he feels the permission granted to Haniyeh’s brother-in-law for treatment in Israel could however be part of a bigger picture.

“Hamas is well aware that Israel will give high quality treatment to Palestinians without taking into consideration their organizational membership,” he said.

“Furthermore, this case could be interpreted as a signal to Hamas … that the channels of negotiation that brought about the release last year of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit … might potentially be used to develop better relations between the two sides.”