NEW YORK (Feb. 16)
A Jewish refusenik in Baku, U.S.S.R. is suffering from leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant from his sister in Israel in order to survive, according to a noted physician.
The case of the refusenik, Michael Buchman, is reminiscent of that of Michael Shirman, who died almost a year ago in Rehovot, Israel after receiving too late a bone marrow transplant from his sister.
Buchman, 42, is suffering from acute myelogenous leukemia, “the bad kind,” said Dr. Kenneth Prager, a New York physician who was Shirman’s doctor and friend during his battle to be reunited with his sister, Inessa Fleurova.
Prager has told the International Physicians Commission for the Protection of Prisoners in Highland Park, Ill., about Buchman’s need to see his sister, Freida Melamed, who immigrated to Jerusalem in August.
Melamed has appealed to the International Red Cross as well as the Soviet Red Cross, saying, “I beseech you to help my brother come to Israel immediately, so that he does not die.”
Prager, a physician at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center here, said Soviet authorities are stalling, as they did in the Shirman-Fleurova case. He said Buchman was diagnosed with leukemia in September, when he was already a refusenik, and has repeatedly contacted Soviet authorities about his need to immigrate.
Prager emphasized the Soviets’ stated commitments to reunification of first-degree relatives and to apply emergency conditions to ailing Soviet citizens.
Buchman, a mechanical engineer, is married to a biologist, Ada. The couple has a three-year-old daughter.
Dr. Shimon Slavin of Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, who performed the transplant on Shirman, has written to authorities in Baku, urging Buchman’s “immediate transfer” in order to have the surgery.
He requires more than a temporary visa, Prager noted, because of the gravity of the illness. “He cannot simply visit and return. He will need ongoing medical surveillance following a transplant,” he said.