Israel’s Two Liver Transplant Patients Show ‘some Slight Stability’

“Some slight stability” was reported Sunday in the conditions of Israel’s first two liver transplant patients fighting for their lives at Rambam Hospital in Haifa. Both suffered setbacks last week and had to undergo additional surgery to stop internal hemorrhaging.

Mira Schichmanter, a 40-year-old mother of two from Kfar Saba, underwent the first liver transplant operation on October 22 and appeared to be making satisfactory progress until she required emergency surgery Tuesday night. Hospital sources said Sunday that she is “holding her own.”

Eliahu Schreier, 59, from Moshav Shoresh near Jerusalem, was operated on twice in less than 24 hours last week. His pulse and blood pressure were reported stable Sunday.

Meanwhile, the religious controversy over liver transplants took a new turn Sunday when former Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren maintained they are not only permissable under religious law but constituted a mitzvah. Goren, in an article published in The Jerusalem Post, took issue with the incumbent Chief Rabbis, Mordechai Eliahu (Sephardic) and Avraham Shapira (Ashkenazic) who oppose organ transplants on halachic grounds.

According to Goren, the key condition is the definition of brain death as applied to the organ donor. If the entire brain, including the part that controls breathing, has ceased to function for a minimum of 7-8 minutes, the donor is dead halachically and the donor’s organs may be used to save another’s life, Goren said.

He disclosed that a Health Ministry official consulted with him several hours before Schichmanter’s transplant operation and he explained his halachic approach. The two Chief Rabbis insist that death occurs only when the heart stops beating.

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