A positive message: David Ben-Yair (left) and Mohammed Eckert – Photo: Piotr Fliter
Mohammed Eckert, 32, and David Ben-Yair, 57, both from the Haifa area, were hospitalized side by side in the same room. Up until a week ago, they didn’t know each other. Today they are linked by blood.
In a rare and intricate procedure, rarely performed in Israel, Eckert’s wife, Rasha, 30, donated her kidney to Ben-Yair. In exchange for the generous donation that saved his father’s life, Ben-Yair’s son Shmuel, 34, donated his kidney to Mohammed.
The procedure, still not very prevalent in Israel, is called a crossover transplantation. It is performed when there is no match between the patient and any of his family members, or when the patient has specific antibodies that make it impossible to get a donation from a family member. When this happens, doctors use a cross-hospital database to find a suitable match for the patient. On the basis of the best possible match, the hospital then refers other donors to that patient.
In the case of Eckert and Ben-Yair, a cross match was discovered. Dr. Rawi Ramadan, the director of the Medical Transplantation Unit in the Department of Nephrology at Rambam hospital, brought the two families together and accompanied them throughout the process.
According to Dr. Ramadan, when the idea for crossover transplantation came up, the four didn’t hesitate for a minute: “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.”
The dramatic procedure took place last Tuesday. All four individuals went under the knife simultaneously in adjacent operating rooms. In a procedure lasting three hours, the Rambam doctors removed the donors’ kidneys and prepared them for transplantation. Immediately after the harvesting of the kidneys, the two donors were taken to recovery and the kidneys were transplanted in Eckert and Ben-Yair in a procedure that took three and a half hours. Both procedures were successful.
The four patients reunited for the first time since the operation on Thursday. “We bonded both physically and mentally,” said David Ben-Yair. “Here, in our country, and in the world at large, we have to realize that we have the power to save people, all people.”
Eckert echoed his roommate’s sentiments, saying, “We are an inseparable part of one another now. Saving a life is exalted, regardless of whether it is a Jewish or Arab life.”
View original Israel Hayom publication at: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=9657