Leukemia Victim Shirman Given Small Chance of Survival, Even with Surgery

Doctors treating leukemia victim Michael Shirman said Thursday that he has only a 10-15 percent chance of survival, even with a bone marrow transplant from his sister, Inessa Flerova, because his condition has deteriorated seriously in the past II months.

They said that if Flerova had been given permission to leave the USSR last February, when she first requested it, his chances would have been as high as 50 percent. Flerova arrived in Israel with her family last week.

With Shirman’s disease in an advanced stage, the doctors are uncertain whether to go ahead with the transplant because of the patient’s weakened condition and the poor outlook for success.

The prognosis was all the more painful because tests showed that Flerova’s tissues are entirely compatible with her brother’s. The test results were announced Wednesday by Dr. Haim Brautbar of Hadassah Medical Center here, where the tests were made. Shirman was hospitalized several days ago at Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot.

Flerova’s initial request for exit visas was denied by the Soviet authorities. Later she was told she could leave, but without her husband and children. As an international campaign on behalf of Shirman was mounted in the West, the authorities relented to the extent that she could take her young children to Israel, however, her husband, Viktor Flerov, would have to remain behind on a legal technicality.

Shirman urged his sister not to divide her family. As the months dragged on the campaign intensified. Shirman, attended by a physician, flew to Reykjavik, Iceland, to appeal personally to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who was there for the October 11-12 summit meeting with President Reagan.

Later he flew to Washington, where he told a press conference on Capitol Hill that doctors gave him only three months to live unless he had a bone marrow transplant. His sister was the only possible donor. The Soviet authorities agreed two weeks ago to allow Flerov to accompany his wife.

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