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Second Liver Transplant Operation in Israel; First Transplant Patient is Still Listed in Critical Co

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Rambam Hospital in Haifa announced Sunday evening that a surgical team was performing a second liver transplant operation in less than a week.

The hospital said the surgical team was headed by Dr. Yigal Kam and that the patient was male, transferred from Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. It offered no further details.

Kam performed Israel’s first liver transplant five days ago on Mira Schichmanter. Her condition was reported Sunday to be improving but is still listed as critical. Schichmanter, a mother of two, turned 40 on Friday.

She underwent a controversial 20-hour operation last Wednesday and has been confined since then to an intensive care isolation unit linked to a respirator. Although doctors reported no significant progress in the functioning of her new liver, they described her condition as “somewhat improved” on Friday. She is reportedly fully conscious and spoke a few words to her family and physicians. On Thursday she sat in an armchair for 30 minutes.

Kam, who trained in liver transplant surgery at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pa., said it would be a few more days before he could call the operation a success and three to four weeks before doctors can determine if her body accepted the liver.

Schichmanter’s family is reportedly considering adding the name of her donor to her name in gratitude for the donor family’s altruistic decision. The donor, a 19-year-old woman soldier from Kibbutz Shaar Ha’amakin, died in a car accident early last week.

Prior to Schichmanter’s operation, liver transplants were forbidden in Israel by religious authorities because of a technical argument over the definitions of death. In order to donate a liver, the donor’s heart must still be beating, even if the donor is brain dead and artificial means are used to keep the heart beating. In the rabbinical definition of death though, a person is dead only when the heart stops beating.

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