News and Events

Rambam Drama: American Patient’s Death Saves Israeli Lives

Publication Date: 2/13/2017

​​​​The tragic death of an Israeli immigrant from the USA brought new hope to Israeli's in need of a very special gift only he could give.

Muhammad Badarna after the kidney transplant.
Photographer: Ofer Golan.
Inset: Photo of Craig Richard Morello, provided
by his family.Muhammad Badarna after the kidney transplant. Photographer: Ofer Golan. Inset: Photo of Craig Richard Morello, provided by his family.

A few weeks ago, Craig Richard Morello, an American citizen living in Israel, was brought to Rambam with a critical head injury. While the medical team fought for two days to save his life, Rambam’s staff conducted an exhaustive search to locate his family.

After looking through his belongings, Sarit Honen, a senior nurse at Rambam Health Care Campus, learned that Morello was an American citizen now living in Haifa. Next an inquery was sent to the Interior Ministry. They advised that Morello had a daughter, Jennifer, whose last visit to Israel was in 2005. However, her current address was unknown. Using the contacts in Morello’s phone, Honen was able to contact the owners of his rental apartment; however, a search uncovered no contact information of family—in Israel or in the USA.

Not one to give up, Honen tried to use Facebook to contact Jennifer. However, messages via Facebook Messenger remained unanswered. Honen finally made contact with official from the US Embassy in Tel Aviv. They were able to find someone connected with Morello—his ex-wife’s sister who lives with her family in Israel. With the help of the sister, Honen was finally able to make contact with Jennifer and her mother Lizette via a video chat on Facebook messenger.

Sadly, valuable time was lost. Jennifer and her mother were located, but Morello’s situation had in the meantime deteriorated and he succumbed to his wounds. However, through continued contact between Rambam and Jennifer, permission was given to donate her father’s organs—a gesture that brought new hope to five Israelis who received kidneys, retinas, and a heart valve. One of the kidney recipients, 36-year-old Muhammad Badarna, had been suffering from kidney failure since childhood.

Muhammad spoke with Lizette Morello, Jennifer’s mother a few days ago, and expressed his deep and heartfelt gratitude for the gift of live he had received. “I am deeply moved,” Badarna said in a conversation, “I don’t know how to thank you. Thank you from the depth of my heart.”

Lizette Morello was equally moved as she spoke with Badarna and shared about the man to whom she had been married for 12 years. “He loved to play musical instruments and sing. He was a good man with a sense of humor, smart and witty. He knew everything about everything. There wasn’t a bad bone in his body. He love and accepted everyone. He was a free spirit and he died in the place he loved—Israel,” she paused, and then continued. “I am happy you received a second chance and that Craig lives on in you and others.”

Watch the conversation with Lizette Morello and Muhammad Badarna on YouTube.
Videography: Ofer Golan, RHCC