Organ Transplants Save Four Lives

Dr. Benjamin Medallion, head of the Heart Lung Transplant Unit at RMC and Zeev Shar

Zeev Shar was one of the first ambulance drivers to respond to the Beit Lid bombing, which on January 22nd, 1995 claimed the lives of 22 innocent civilians and wounded many others. The gruesome sight of one of the worst terrorist attacks in Israel was more than he could bear. After spending the day struggling to save lives, Zeev suffered a severe heart attack. Although doctors were able to rescue him, Zeev's condition has continued to deteriorate in the fifteen years since.

Six months ago, Zeev's heart could sustain no more and he underwent an artificial heart transplant. Although this was initially successful, the transplant became infected within the first few months. Zeev would now need a fresh, living heart transplant if he was to continue living.

While Zeev's wife and four daughters prayed for his salvation, another family in the Galilee mourned their loss. Confronted with the tragic death of an otherwise healthy thirty-six-year-old, the man's family decided that donating his organs to save the lives of others would be a fitting memorial. In the middle of the night, a special team from the Rabin Medical Center was called up and flown via helicopter to the northern hospital where the man had died so that they could assess and harvest his organs.

When the team returned, a fortunate few awaiting donor transplants were summoned to the hospital and a transplant marathon began. Dr. Benjamin Medallion, head of the Heart and Lung Transplant Unit at the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, and his expert team are one of few departments in the world capable of accomplishing this feat: five organ transplants in one day. Zeev was one of them. He is now recuperating and resting following his surgery. Also saved that day were a fifteen-year-old girl who had been on dialysis for half of her life, a 66 year-old man who received new lungs, a 58-year-old man who received a much needed kidney and another 58-year-old man who received a liver.

One family's charitable decision, after losing one life that was dear to them, saved the lives of five more whom they had never met. It's easy, when grieving, to be consumed by thoughts for what you have lost, but don't lose sight of the opportunities to give that the loss affords. Even in our worst moments, we can choose to make the world a better place.

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