Palestinian, Israeli Families Come Together For Life-saving Transplant

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A boy from the West Bank and another boy from Israel needed a transplant to survive, but they were only able to find suitable donors in each other's families.

doctors operating on patient Not all stories involving Palestinians and Israelis have an unfortunate ending.

Jerusalem Post reports that two teens from very different backgrounds and their families came together to save each other's lives, thanks in part to how far along medical technology has come over the years.

A 19-year-old Israeli Arab and a 16-year-old Palestinian boy were in need of kidneys, but while family members willing to donate their organs weren't physically compatible, they turned out to be the perfect match for members of the other teen in need.

So, at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Israel, the 19-year-old's mother, who's from a village near Nahariya, Israel, donated her kidney to the 16-year-old boy while his brother, who's from Jenin, West Bank, donated his kidney to the Israeli teen.

The “cross transplant” wasn't easy, surgeons said, precisely because they required both operations to be executed simultaneously. Still, it was a success, and the patients are now recovering.

This marks the first time an Israeli hospital carried out a live, cross kidney transplant sine the 1960s. Being the only organ transplant center in the region, the Rambam Medical Center was the perfect place for this procedure.

Dr. Ran Steinberg, who heads pediatric surgery at Rambam’s Ruth Rappaport Children’s Hospital, said he believes that the “partnership among all factors” helped them to save lives, “and there is no greater satisfaction” than that, he added.

During the surgery's first phase, both donors were brought into the operating room so one kidney was removed from each one of them. Organs were then prepared for transplant and then recipients were brought into the room to finally receive their new kidneys. The procedure was so delicate that it involved dozens of staff members, such as doctors and nurses as well as personnel from other areas including nephrology and vascular surgery.

It's good to know such a happy story has taken place in Israel, and that the beneficiaries were boys from worlds apart. After all, both regions are in such heavy conflict regularly due to Israel's occupation of both Gaza and the West Bank, that it's almost a miracle to see such a delicate surgery involving a Palestinian taking place in Israel. 

Thumbnail Credit: REUTERS, Amir Cohen

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