Rasha Abu Joama 311.
(photo credit: Carmel Medical Center )
The law to provide financial compensation to live donors of organs – passed two
years ago – is finally being implemented in the hope that it will encourage
people to donate kidneys. Compensation is for recovery time, pain and loss of
work retroactive to May 2008. The budget for compensation is NIS 4 million until
the end of 2010, and will cover 150 people who donated a kidney or liver lobe
since the law was passed.
The arrangement is not expected to
significantly increase the number of donors, but it will offer help to
altruistic people who until now have avoided donating an organ because they
feared economic risks. Israel Transplant chairman Prof. Rafael Beyar, who is
also director-general of Rambam Medical Center, guessed that a total of 100
kidneys may be offered by live donors each year compared to about 80 today.
Donors are entitled to receive 40 days of salary if they work; those who don’t
will get 40 days’ worth of minimum wages, while expenses of up to NIS 30,000, in
exchange for receipts will be paid. Life insurance, psychological treatments,
transportations costs involving the donation and recovery and additional medical
costs not covered by one’s health funded are also covered.
Israelis are currently waiting for a kidney, making the queue five or six years
long. About half of the transplants come from live donors and the rest from
cadavers.BLACKS’ GENETIC RISK OF KIDNEY DISEASE
The risk of chronic
kidney disease in people of African ancestry is significantly higher than in
Caucasians, according to a researcher at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center, who
discovered a responsible gene. Prof. Karl Skorecki, a kidney specialist who is
also very knowledgeable about genetics and is on the faculty of the
Technion-Israel Institute of Technology’s Rappaport Medical Faculty, published
his finding in a recent issue of Human Genetics. The type of kidney disease
connected to the defective gene can lead to renal insufficiency and require
dialysis or an organ transplant.
Chronic kidney disease affects millions
in North America, with persons of African background at a four-fold higher risk
and those of Hispanic heritage having a two-fold higher risk compared to the
rest of the population. The new research points to the APOL1 gene as involved in
the increased risk in this population.
There had been an intense race in
the international scientific community to determine the genetic link responsible
for the greatly increased risk many people of African heritage face for
end-stage kidney disease and the need for dialysis or transplantation. In
addition to accounting for the risk previously attributed to MYH9 in persons of
African heritage, these findings set the stage for a new area of research
relating the APOL family of genes to kidney disease more generally.
A DECADE, RASHA CAN SMILE AGAIN
An operation has restored the smile to Rasha Abu
Joama of the Galilee village of Dir-el- Assad. Ten years ago, at the age of 13,
a virus paralyzed a face muscle and made it difficult to eat or speak, in
addition to making her look grumpy all the time. She described her life as
“hell.” Prof. Yaron Har- Shai, who heads the plastic and maxillofacial surgery
department at Carmel Medical Center in Haifa, is the only Israeli to have
studied the transplanting of muscles from one part of the face for use in other
parts, and decided to try to help her.
In the operation, muscle taken
from her temple that served in the chewing process was turned into a “smiling
muscle.” In what is claimed as a world-first, the muscle at her temple was
disconnected and attached to the edge of her mouth. During the surgery, the
muscle was stimulated with an electric current, enabling the surgeon to see its
effect immediately and set it to make a natural smile. At discharge, Abu Joma
hugged Har-Shai and smiled a precious smile. “My life has changed completely. I
have thrown away all my anti-depression pills. I can eat and speak normally... I
am overjoyed and smile at everybody.”
An article on the innovative
procedure was published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.