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The Rabin Medical Center expressed its sorrow on Friday night over the death of a 35-year-old man who was the first Israeli patient to receive a transplant of two lung lobes from live donors - made necessary by the lack of cadaver organs.
His younger brother and sister each donated a lower lobe to the man, who suffered for years from a chronic lung disease. Only about 300 such operations have been performed abroad, mostly in the US and Japan.
The surgery, which took nine hours, was performed 11 days ago at the medical center's Beilinson Campus in Petah Tikva, with three surgical theaters and teams totalling 30 people functioning simultaneously.
Rabin Medical Center lung surgery department head Dr. Milton Saute was assisted by Prof. Hiroshi Date, who has performed 48 such transplants so far and came specially from his hospital in Japan.
The hospital said the man was in serious but stable condition from the transplant until his death. The two lobes functioned well, but there was a sudden decline in his condition on Friday, causing multiple organ failure. He was rushed to the operating room and connected to support systems, but despite great efforts to save him, he died.
"We appreciate the family for their faith, sacrifice and willingness to cooperate," the hospital said on Saturday night.
The man was diagnosed in 1991 with leukemia and received bone marrow donated by his sister. It was rejected by his immune system, however, causing damage to his lungs. During the last two years, he has been hospitalized several times with pulmonary insufficiency. He was about to try for a transplant from a cadaver abroad but then learned about the possibility of live donations. His 20-year-old brother and 28-year-old sister agreed to each give one of their five lobes, which (unlike a liver lobe) will not grow back. Their tissue types were well suited to the recipient and thus were unlikely to be rejected.
"We salute the family," said Dr. Eyal Porat, head of the cardiothoracic surgery department. "The hospital made great efforts to succeed in this complicated operation on this very ill patient. Throughout his surgery, we tried to give the family our maximum support. We share in the family's sorrow."