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Friday, 14 June 2013

Jewish & Arab Patients Save Each Other’s Lives

All too regularly, I read in a newspaper, or hear on a news programme, that the real problem in the Middle East is not the civil war in Syria; or the belligerence of Iran; or the tragic lack of human rights in Saudi-Arabia - but Israel!  Rarely do I come across a western-media report that does anything but cast Israel as the villain in the piece.  I do wish that the mainstream media would pick up on stories like this one!

Two patients at the Rambam Medical Centre in Haifa, one Arab and one Jewish, both in need of kidney transplants, received the life saving donations they needed from each others families.  Each patient, one Arab and the other Jewish, managed to save the other's life by having one of their relatives donate their kidney to help the other patient survive! 32-year-old Mohammad Eckert’s wife, Rasha, aged 30, donated her kidney to 57-year-old David Ben-Yair, while David’s son Shmuel, aged 34, gave his kidney to Mohammed. The rare procedure was performed at Rambam Hospital’s Medical Transplantation Unit by Dr. Rawi Ramadan, an Arab physician who is the director of Rambam’s Transplantation Unit. Two men, who didn’t know each other prior to this, are now connected to one another through a bond of gratitude.

The procedure which was performed, known as a crossover transplantation, is not common in Israel and is performed whenever there is no match between a patient and his family members. “We test every patient that has a living donor in order to evaluate if such a transplant can be done within the family,” Dr. Ramadan told the Jewish Press. “But sometimes one of the patients has a blood type or antibodies that don’t match with the other family member. In this particular case, the Jewish father had antibodies in his blood that weren’t an exact match with his son.”  He continued, “With today’s medical technologies, we could have actually performed the transplant within the same family but we would have had to give them a lot of pre-operative medications, which come with both short-term and long-term side effects. Thus, it was better to do the exchange between the Jewish and Arab families, as both patients received the same quality of kidney and we were able to treat them with a minimal amount of anti-rejection medications.” Dr. Ramadan said that when the idea for crossover transplantation was discussed, the four Haifa residents didn’t hesitate: “To them, it didn’t matter who donated to whom. As far as they are concerned, they donated a kidney to a family member, and their donation saved a life.”

There are many cases of Jewish people and Arab people saving each others lives. An Arab paramedic saved the life of a three-year-old Jewish child who had been injured by a Palestinian rock thrower, while an Israeli couple donated a kidney from their son to save the life of a Palestinian boy. As a matter of policy, Israel has routinely put the conflict aside, in order to save Palestinian lives, as demonstrated by Rambam Hospital saving the life of a two-year-old Palestinian child, and Tel Hashomer Hospital saving the life of a disabled Palestinian child who had been abandoned by his family.

Dr. Rawi Ramadan is also not the only Arab to thrive in the medical profession in Israel. The head of emergency medicine at Hadassah Hospital, Dr. Aziz Darawshe, is also Arab, as is Dr. Rifat Safedi, who is the head of the Liver Unit at Hadassah Hospital and has uncovered the gene linked to liver disease.

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