News and Events

Israeli and Palestinian Families Gifts Each Other With Life

Publication Date: 5/17/2017 | by: Rambam

​​​Four patients entered Rambam’s operating rooms on the same day, two to donate their kidneys and two to receive them. This cross-transplant procedure involved dozens of staff from the Ruth Rappaport Children’s Hospital.

Pictured: One of the kidney surgeries performed at Rambam.
Photographer: Pioter FliterPhotographer: Pioter FliterPictured: One of the kidney surgeries performed at Rambam. Photographer: Pioter FliterPhotographer: Pioter Fliter

A 19-year-old Israeli from a village near Nahariya was to receive a kidney donated by his mother, but the kidney was found to be incompatible with the boy's immune system. In a similar story, a 16-year-old Palestinian was meant to receive his brother's kidney, which was also found to be incompatible. As fate would have it, while the donors were not immunologically compatible to their own relatives who needed the organs, their tissues were each suitable for members of the other family. This became a life-giving and life-saving cross-transplant opportunity, a relatively rare procedure both in Israel and world-wide.

Surgeons at Rambam said the operations were challenging and complicated, particularly from a logistical point of view—the procedures had to be performed at the same time.

First, the donors were brought into the operating room to simultaneously remove their kidneys. Over the next three hours the kidneys were meticulously prepared for transplant. Finally, the two boys were brought in for a simultaneous operation to receive their new kidneys—a delicate surgical procedure.

All surgeries were successful and the patients are now recuperating.
Dr. Ran Steinberg, head of pediatric surgery at Rambam’s Ruth Rappaport Children’s Hospital, explained that the experience gained at Rambam over the years made it possible for such a complex project to succeed. “We succeeded in saving lives, and there is no greater satisfaction.”

Rambam was the first Israeli hospital to carry out a live-donor kidney transplantations in the 1960s and is the only kidney transplant center in the north. Next month, Rambam will host the 2017 Rambam Summit, devoted to the field of nephrology, and explore the latest research and therapeutic innovations to prevent and treat kidney disease.