According to Israel’s National Transplant Center, when altruistic donors register directly and join the organ exchange database, a chain of matches is created, enabling the donor to essentially save many lives.
In a complicated and meticulously timed campaign that included exchanging coolers containing kidneys at the airport in the Czech Republic, as well as a 21-hour marathon of surgeries at Rambam Health Care Campus, two residents of Northern Israel have been given a second chance at life thanks to the National Transplant Center's international organ exchange program. The complex chain of events included flying the kidneys from Israel to the Czech Republic and receiving kidneys from the Czech Republic, kidney harvesting at Rambam and Sheba Medical Centers, and one altruistic donor – a man in his 40s unrelated to either the donor families or the recipients who simply decided to donate a kidney to strangers.
Professor Rafi Beyar, Chairman of the National Organ Transplant Center’s Steering Committee, says, “The method of exchanging kidneys with foreign countries is already becoming routine. The results are proving themselves through the success of the transplants.”
Dr. Tony Karram, Director of Rambam's Department of Vascular Surgery and Transplantation, explains, "The process began at 3:00 in the morning (L panel of photo). The first kidney was taken by ambulance to Ben Gurion Airport and flown with another kidney from Sheba Medical Center to Prague in the Czech Republic (R panel of photo).”
Dr. Karram added that the campaign ended at around midnight, with a chain of six donations and six transplants. “This operation involved a tremendous joint effort by surgeons, vascular surgeons, anesthetists, nephrologists, nurses, transplant coordinators, and many other professionals who collaborated to make the entire process a success.”