O. Berger from Israel: “I am very happy to have dedicated my first footprint in medicine to my beloved Vilnius University”


Vilnius University (VU) Faculty of Medicine graduate student from Israel Ortal Berger, does not hide his joy of having two passports, one of which is Lithuanian. Ortal became well- known in Lithuania during his studies at the Faculty of Medicine, when in spring of 2018 his successful implementation of an outpatient caesarean delivery method in Lithuania appeared in the media. Now, our country is the third in the world to have this operation after France and Israel.

For the first time, on the initiative of VU medical student Ortal Berger, in cooperation with specialists of Vilnius University Hospital Santaros clinics, Lithuanian obstetricians-gynecologists were introduced to a novelty from France - ambulatory caesarean section surgery. It was Ortal who gathered the needed information and got in touch with an Israeli doctor Dr Israel Hendler. Later, Dr I. Hendler and Lithuanian doctor Dr Mindaugas Balnys started working with the obstetrician-gynecologists at Santaros Clinic.

This modern advanced method invented by a French physician Denis Fauck, has been successfully used in France for twenty years. Now, thanks to Ortal, this method is available in our country and Israel too: "I am very happy to have dedicated my first footprint in medicine to my beloved Vilnius University." His final thesis at VU was devoted to this topic as well.

Althought Ortal was the first Israeli student from his course and the only one to pass a license exam in Israel and obtain a license to practice medicine, he did not dream about becoming a doctor from an early age: "Frankly, medicine was never my dream, it was more my sister's dream. She is currently studying medical residency in Israel. I just saw how well my dad works, he is a dentist, and in any case for me the work of a doctor is associated with magic," he said.

Ortal has always been fascinated by the achievements of medicine proffessionals, he also couldn't imagine himself sitting in a "grey, boring office" all day. However, to become a doctor in Israel is not an easy task – here are a lot high requirements, many exams, tests, several-year waiting list. This is why Ortal decided to study medicine in Lithuania.

"When I once and for all decided to become a doctor, choosing a country where I could get the highest level of education in this specialty did not pose difficulties to me.” Ortal says. He wants to become an obstetrician - gynecologist, but is also interested in other fields of medicine.

Even though he was born and raised in Tel Aviv, Israel, Ortal always cared about his Lithuanian origins. In 2013 he came to study in the capital of Lithuania and settled in the same area where his mother had lived before: “I am a Litvak, both my parents are from Lithuania. My mother was born in Vilnius, and grandfather and his whole family lived in Žaliakalnis, Kaunas. I have two nationalities and both of them are very dear to me,” a former VU student says.

According to Ortal, studying at Vilnius University was not easy, often fraught with challenges – intense studies, little free time. However, impressive practical work, never-ending fascination with discoveries in Vilnius and all over Lithuania left an indelible impression on Ortal's memory: “During these 6 years, everything has changed for the better - Vilnius University has great potential, which undoubtedly makes it one of the most significant universities not only in the Baltic States, but also in Europe. And the rapidly changing, modernizing face of Vilnius and the entire Lithuania, the peculiar way of life and the unbridled love of the people for their homeland only reaffirm the uniqueness of this charming land in the heart of Europe.”

Now, Ortal is planning to do an internship in Israel for one year before he can proceed to residency – study procedure is applicable in this country. While in Israel, he is still thinking about Lithuania – his grandfather works hard to perfect Ortal's Lithuanian language and grammar. He also speaks Hebrew, Yiddish, Spanish and understands Russian. His mother often makes Lithuanian dishes for the whole family and promotes Lithuanian culture. Ortal devotes most of his free time to the passion of his life – basketball: "One of the most vivid memories of my childhood is when we all watch the match between Maccabi (Tel Aviv) and the old “Žalgiris”, where Sabonis, Marčiulionis, and others played."

Until this day, Ortal thinks of his studies at the Faculty of Medicine a lot and believes that unforgettable professors and staff will continue its courageous advancement in science and practice, constantly seeking new, cutting-edge forms of study and nurturing the name of VU. To all students and alumni he wishes optimism, hard work, and to consistently move toward their goals of life.

"The ability to see the bright side of life is, in my opinion, one of the most important traits of any modern personality, especially of a medical doctor. A medical practitioner must be able to 'infect' a patient with his competence and confidence, a positive attitude to life. Furthermore, he always has to be able to listen to the patient and do his utmost to overcome the major health risks. In the coming years, let's all be positive and persistent, push for our goals, and let everything be wonderful," says Ortal.

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