Heart transplant recipient donates 4 organs after death

First case in Israel in which a former donor recipient who died donated major organs from the chest cavity.

September 29, 2010 03:50
1 minute read.
THE LATE Rahel Kusilevich (seated) and her daughte

Donor 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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The family of a 60-year-old woman who underwent a heart transplant in 1993 donated her lungs and corneas to others after she died Sunday following a stroke. The woman, Rahel Kusilevich, died at the Rabin Medical Center- Beilinson Campus in Petah Tikva and was buried in Rehovot on Tuesday.

Israel Transplant announced that the lungs were transplanted at Beilinson into two women, one 53 and the other 60 years old. The corneas, which will enable the vision impaired or blind recipients to see, will be transplanted in the next few days. It was apparently the first case in Israel in which a former donor recipient who died donated major organs from the chest cavity.

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At the age of 43, Kusilevich fainted, and tests showed that she had a previously undiscovered congenital heart defect. It turned out that she needed a heart transplant. The donor was a deceased tourist whose family wanted to remain anonymous, even though the Kusileviches had wanted to thank them.

That operation 17 years ago was performed at Beilinson by Prof. Dan Aravot, who established the heart transplant program at that hospital, said her daughter, Tali. Kusilevich, who ran a jewelry store in Rehovot, left a husband, two adult children and a grandson. She turned 60 six weeks ago.

When Rahel died and her family members were asked for permission to donate organs, they did not hesitate, as they knew what her second heart had meant to her.

“She broke an ankle recently, and her condition declined, causing her body’s reaction to her anti-rejection medications to become imbalanced,” Tali told The Jerusalem Post. “We didn’t think she was in good enough shape to donate organs to others, but the hospital’s transplant coordinator and doctors said she was.

“She always promoted organ donation, and we were all registered with ADI [Israel’s Transplant’s voluntary organization for the registration of potential donors],” Tali said.

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