TEL AVIV (Dec. 19)
Three-year-old Meir Zorea’s flight to the U.S. for a life-saving liver transplant operation was interrupted last night when the child’s condition suddenly worsened, forcing his plane to make an unscheduled landing at London where he was rushed to a hospital.
The youngster, from Migdal Haemek, was reported this morning to be in stable condition at Kings College Hospital,which specializes in liver ailments. He left Israel at midnight last night accompanied by his father and Dr. Yehezkel Weissman of Beilinson Hospital, who has been treating the boy. Weissman told Israel Radio by telephone today that Meir was running a slight temperature and was bleeding when he was taken aboard the El Al plane.
He was treated in flight with drugs and blood plasma but his condition did not improve and Weissman thought it better to land at London than continue the long flight across the Atlantic. He said the bleeding has been stopped but it will be up to doctors at Kings College Hospital to decide if and when the patient could resume the flight to New York and thence to a Pittsburgh hospital where the transplant surgery is to be performed.
Weissmansaid he thought Meir might have to stay for a week or two at the London hospital where doctors can administer tests and treatment to prepare him for the journey.
The child, who will be three in two months, was born with a liver defect and has spent most of his life in hospitals. His condition was widely publicized in Israel when doctors said he could not live much longer without a liver transplant.This triggered a nation wide drive to raise the estimated $130-$150,000 needed for the journey to the U.S. and surgery. Donations have been pouring in, though the target goal had not been reached when Meir left Israel last night.
The Health Ministry and Histadrut’s sick fund, Kupat Holim, are contributing.
Meir’s mother was supposed to join her son and husband in Pittsburgh in a few days, after making arrangements for the care of her three other young children. The situation now is uncertain.
Leading physicians here have said the liver transplant could be performed successfully in Israel where surgical teams are fully trained in the procedure. But the operation is banned by the Health Ministry. The main problem is the lack of a donor who, doctors say, must be just deceased and of the same age as the recipient. There is an acute shortage of human organs for transplant in Israel because of the severe restrictions on autopsies imposed by the Orthodox religious authorities.