By Rochelle Maruch Miller
Dr. Eyal Gur enlisted in the IDF in a pilot’s course. After being in this course for two years, he joined the “Shelldag” (“Kingfisher”) Unit, an elite Air Force Commander unit. He left for an official training course and became staff commander and then company commander. While serving in the first Lebanon War, he was wounded.
He was with a group of soldiers at the time, just ten kilometers into Syria, when anti-aircraft fire began shooting directly towards them. Eyal lost his right leg directly below the knee, and two of his soldiers were injured. He and his friends were rescued. Eyal was flown by helicopter to Ziv Hospital in Safed, and from there to Belinson Hospital where he went through the amputation. Eyal’s rehabilitation took place at Tel Shomer Hospital.
Within a month after his amputation, Dr. Gur, who runs the plastic surgery department at Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv, was back in the sea on his surfboard. An avid runner and bike rider, he started playing sports intensively within the framework of the fighters’ house (Beit Halochem). Eyal participated in the Seoul Olympics in swimming and volleyball and won a silver medal for volleyball. Four years later, he won a bronze medal in the Barcelona Olympics. He even took a trekking tour to Nepal.
He began his medical studies in 1983 at Tel Aviv University. After graduating in 1991, Dr. Gur began his residency in plastic surgery at Ichilov Hospital. In 1995 he went to Toronto where he specialized in microsurgery and plastic surgery in children.
Upon his return to Israel, he founded the microsurgery unit at Ichilov Hospital. One of Israel’s foremost plastic surgeons, Dr. Gur runs the plastic surgery department at Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv.
Recently, Dr. Gur was in Long Island as part of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Strides Program, which provides advanced prosthetics mainly used for sporting activity, which cannot be provided in Israel, to former Israeli soldiers who suffered an injury during their IDF service and went through amputation. Some of them are younger and some older, but all of these brave and selfless men and women have been wounded in different battles and wars in Israel.
Dr. Gur received his prosthetic leg at the “A Step Ahead Prosthetics” Workshop in Hicksville, Long Island, finally allowing him to run and bike again. “A Step Ahead” is recognized the world over as a leader and innovator in prosthetic design. FIDF began working with them last year as part of their Strides Program.
Undeterred by the severity of his injuries, Dr. Gur is an exemplar of courage–a gifted surgeon, devoted family man, and an avid sports enthusiast who dedicates his efforts on behalf of the greater good. In this exclusive interview with the 5TJT, Dr. Gur discusses his triumph against adversity.
RMM: Dr. Gur, you are a source of inspiration and hope to so many people. Who is your greatest source of inspiration?
DEG: Every person in the world who I see is evidence that everyone can struggle to accomplish even more and do still better. Every friend of mine who accomplished a marathon, triathalon, or an iron man contest inspires me.
RMM: How has the FIDF helped you and other soldiers wounded in combat or through acts of terror?
DEG: The Strides Program approached me not long ago and invited me to take part in the most amazing chance to improve my quality of life and be able to achieve a goal I have dreamed about–like running and competing in triathalons.
RMM: Moving forward in the aftermath of the horrific events of the Boston Marathon, what words of solace and advice would you offer to the bereaved and to those who have been physically and emotionally wounded?
DEG: Use the inner resources and strengths you gained throughout your life. One must use the energy, motivation, and driving forces he is already familiar with to overcome the obstacle. Use what you have and you will come out of it.
RMM: What are some of the greatest challenges you have had to overcome as a result of being severely wounded?
DEG: In the beginning, to start walking again, to swim in a pool, and meeting a girl for the first time. Later on, the challenges I faced were trekking around Annapuma in Nepal and competing in the Seoul and Barcelona Paralympics in volleyball and swimming. I find myself standing for sometimes more than 16 hours in OR while operating on a complex microsurgical patient.
RMM: What has been your greatest achievement thus far?
DEG: My greatest achievements are having an amazing family, and running the plastic surgery department at the Tel Aviv Medical Center.
RMM: Dr. Gur, what is your message to our readers?
DEG: Please support FIDF–not just for the Strides Program, but for the most amazing other projects: high education scholarships for IDF veterans, supporting soldiers in financial need, and supporting lone soldiers. FIDF is an incredible organization. v