November 9, 2023

UB Neurosurgery team treats rare condition to save a life


Noa Haroush sits in her hospital bed eating soup and is surrounded by various beverages and pudding cups.

After the eight-hour surgery, Noa Haroush was in recovery and had a chance to start eating again. Photo from Ellen Goldbaum

BUFFALO, N.Y. – On October 7th, a young Israeli woman named Noa Haroush embarked on a life-saving journey. Accompanied by her family, Noa traveled to Western New York to receive brain surgery for a rare condition.

Unraveling Moyamoya: Noa’s Diagnosis

Noa, 18 years old, began experiencing weakness in her left side, along with troubling shakiness in her hand and arm. Uncertainty loomed as she weighed the cause, considering anything from school-related stress to medication side effects.

The journey to understanding Noa’s condition involved numerous medical tests and diagnostic imaging. The verdict was severe: Noa had Moyamoya disease, a rare condition causing blockages in the arteries that supply blood to the brain. This diagnosis meant she was at high risk of experiencing debilitating strokes and brain bleeding, a prospect that demanded immediate intervention.

Kelly Dudzik at Channel 2 News says, “The condition is so rare that only a few doctors in the entire world can treat it,” a testament to the uniqueness of Noa’s challenge.

Noa’s case was exceptionally severe, with both sides of her brain affected and symptoms spreading throughout her left side. Finding the proper medical care was critical, and fate played an extraordinary role in this journey. Dr. Elad Levy, the Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo, was not just a highly skilled neurosurgeon, but, being from Israel, he also had strong personal connections to Noa’s family. His father and Noa’s grandfather had been friends for decades.

Recognizing the urgency of Noa’s situation and the need for highly specialized surgery, it was clear that Buffalo, New York, was the destination for her life-saving operation.

Dr. Levy decided to do another cerebral angiography here in Buffalo, though doctors in Israel had completed imaging of Noa’s brain. The procedure involves using a catheter to inject contrast dye into the bloodstream. X-ray imaging then reveals how blocked the arteries have become.

Brain scan of Nao Haroush

Noa’s brain scan. Photo from WGRZ-TV Channel 2 News

Life-Saving Surgery: Noa’s Buffalo Experience

The UB Neurosurgery team, led by Dr. Levy and “longtime surgery partner,” Adnan Siddiqui, MD, Ph.D., CEO and CMO of the Jacobs Institute and vice chair and professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the Jacobs School, was prepared to perform a complex procedure that would last eight hours.

“The surgery felt endless,” recalled Noa’s mom Sharon. “It was hard to just be in the waiting room, but there was a nurse, Debbie, continually texting me with updates, which helped.”

Photo of Dr. Elad Levy sitting in his office.

Dr. Elad Levy, the Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo. Photo from Channel 2 News

The surgical procedure was a remarkable success, marking a significant triumph. This complex operation remained one of the most demanding surgeries ever undertaken by Dr. Levy and his team. Noa’s family expressed their profound appreciation for the exceptional care provided by the entire medical team, acknowledging the unwavering dedication and meticulous effort. While Noa continues on her path to recovery, her journey has been nothing short of extraordinary.

“I really want to thank Dr. Levy, Dr. Siddiqui, and their team, and all the nurses,” says Noa’s mother, Sharon. “Everyone took such good care of us. They did such a wonderful job.”

Noa’s journey continues, with her headaches subsiding, and she remains in close contact with her medical team online. In about six months, she plans to return to Buffalo for a follow-up appointment, a testament to the enduring connection formed during this remarkable journey.

Kaleida Health’s Gates Vascular Institute, the site of this extraordinary surgical journey, has earned global acclaim as a distinguished center for cutting-edge stroke care and intricate neurosurgeries. Dr. Levy emphasized, “When individuals seek the highest standard of care and explore their options, our institution consistently emerges as the foremost choice.”

Media Contact Information

Ellen Goldbaum
News Content Manager
Tel: 716-645-4605