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Yitzhak Sullam, Israel’s First Transplant Patient, Dies of Kidney Malfunction

Yitzhak Sullam, Israel’s first heart transplant, died this morning, the Beilinson Hospital reported, adding that death was due to kidney malfunction and not to rejection of the new heart by bodily rejection mechanisms. The 41-year-old bank clerk, father of four, never came out of the coma into which he lapsed after the operation last Dec. 5.

The surgery was performed by a team headed by Prof. Morris Levi. Use of an artificial kidney failed to halt the malfunction. The patient had been treated with special medicine ordered from Britain yesterday morning which arrived last night. Doctors remained at his bedside through the night. The hospital has never indicated the donor of the heart, partially because of fear of protests from Israel’s Orthodox Jews. Some, though not all, Israeli Orthodox leaders declared, during the controversy which followed disclosure of the operation, that they opposed all organ transplants. However, neither Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi Yehuda Untermann nor Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Nissim expressed opposition to the Sullam transplant.

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