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A brother and sister of a 35-year-old man suffering from a chronic lung disease have successfully each donated a lower lobe of their lungs to him and saved his life. It was the first live-donor lung transplant in Israel, made necessary by the lack of cadaver donors. Only about 300 such operations have been performed abroad, mostly in the US and Japan.
The surgery, which took nine hours, was performed Wednesday at the Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus in Petah Tikva. The Jerusalem Post last week exclusively reported the hospital's plans for the operation, in which three surgical theaters and teams totalling 30 people functioned simultaneously. The donors quickly woke up from the anesthesia and felt well. Their brother remains in the intensive care unit of the cardiothoracic surgery department.
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.
Prof. Mordechai Kramer, head of the Beilinson pulmonology institute, said the patient 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 are well suited to the recipient and thus are unlikely to be rejected. This kind of transplant, said Kramer, was well suited to victims of cystic fibrosis or serious lung infections.