Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center.
(photo credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/RAMBAM MEDICAL CENTER)
A 20-year-old college student from Gaza, who is studying in Algiers, arrived at the Rambam Medical Center via Jordan to donate a lifesaving kidney to his 13-year-old brother. His family was reunited at the Haifa hospital’s pediatric nephrology department, and the surgery was successful.
The boy, K., had been admitted to Israel several times for treatment at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center and Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer. During the course of his childhood, he underwent several operations, including one to remove a dysfunctional kidney. However, in recent years, his condition continued to deteriorate, and he reached Rambam in May of last year, when his kidney function was estimated at less than 20%.
The mother, who has six children, had to decide whether the boy would start kidney dialysis or try to get a donor kidney from a relative. She wanted to donate a kidney but was found unsuitable, as was her 24-year-old son. The next brother, M., studying in Algeria, which does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, was found to be a match and he consented to the procedure.
In August, Rambam provided, through Yazid Falah – a health coordinator for patients from the Palestinian Authority who works in the hospital’s patient admissions department – an official letter to the academic institution in which M. studies, detailing the circumstances of his planned visit to Israel and made a commitment that M. would not miss the upcoming academic year.
At the beginning of November, after a number of dialysis treatments, the two brothers underwent their operations, which were successfully led by Prof. Aharon Hoffman, the director of Rambam’s vascular surgery department and colleagues.
The boy shows excellent signs of recovery, but he and his family can’t return to Gaza now because he needs medical care twice weekly, said Dr. Israel Eisenstein, the head of Rambam’s pediatric kidney transplant service.
“If he had been an Israeli child who could be treated as an outpatient, he could have been discharged long ago,” said Eisenstein. “The family is united in Israel, and in the near future, K. will return to Gaza Strip as a healthy person, along with his mother, and M. will return to Algeria through the Jordanian kingdom to continue his studies.”
Since the beginning of pediatric kidney transplants at Rambam in 2014, a total of 32 transplants have been performed, of which one-third have been performed on children from the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. In 2017, 11 kidney transplants were performed on children – a record number for the north of the country, Rambam said.