Germana Basso: From Patient to Role Model

Germana Basso is a 22-year-old medical student, currently working as a volunteer at ALYN Hospital, supporting children in rehabilitation. This is a position she is well qualified for, as she was a long-term patient at ALYN herself and has first-hand experience of the rehabilitation process.

Germana’s life began with a complicated birth that left her with life-changing paralysis of her right arm. She underwent a series of operations, followed by six years of almost daily physiotherapy at ALYN Hospital.

While the therapy was tough, Germana’s time at the hospital left her with happy memories: “Amazingly, I really enjoyed it!” she admits. “It didn’t feel like rehabilitation: it was a world of games, activities and experiences. I also remember a sense of curiosity about my treatment… what are we going to be doing this time?”

Educating her fellow soldiers

Germana realized that living with paralysis was not going to be easy. Unable to fully straighten her arm, she struggled with simple tasks like tying shoes or doing her hair. Undeterred, Germana went on to complete her military service in the Israeli Defense Forces, but now experienced a different kind of treatment: casual comments by fellow soldiers left Germana feeling hurt. “After shaking my hand, someone asked, ‘What is this toy?’ It made me feel awful… crippled, different. It was horrible.”

Instead of being silently offended, Germana decided to educate her fellow soldiers. She invited teenagers with physical challenges who were undergoing rehabilitation in ALYN to come to the base to share their stories with her unit.

Danny Wasa, a resident at ALYN Hospital’s Independent Living Neighborhood for young adults on chronic ventilation, accepted her invitation and came to the base, with his ventilator and equipment. He told them how ALYN Hospital had given him independence and a better quality of life. “Danny spoke about the time he got his first powered wheelchair,” Germana recalls. “How he was so excited because it allowed him to get around on his own. His story brought many of us to tears.”


Germana Basso: from patient to role model

Plans for the future

Germana’s own experiences at ALYN have also opened doors in her own life: she has been offered a place at the medical school in the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

"I feel like I’ve come full circle as a volunteer at ALYN,” Germana says. “I can relate to youngsters with disabilities who face the same challenges I did and I am on a mission to help by sharing my own experiences. Paralysis is an integral part of who I am. I have learned to love myself, which I could not say when I was at high school. Plus, I am now fulfilling my dream to study medicine. As we say at ALYN, turn your disability into ability!