TEL AVIV (Nov. 16)
In an unusual humanitarian gesture, the heart of a slain Israel Defense Force soldier was transplanted Wednesday to save the life of a 54-year-old East Jerusalem Arab.
The transplant took place only hours after the soldier died of wounds suffered in the ambush of his jeep in the Gaza Strip Monday.
The singular sequence of events began when doctors at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba gave up hope for the life of Sgt. Ze’ev Traum, 40, an IDF reservist from Moshav Yodfat in Galilee and the father of four children.
The doctors asked his wife if she would agree to donate his heart after death. She agreed, but has since refused to discuss the matter.
The heart recipient, identified as Khader Hanna, was one of two patients called to Hadassah University Hospital when a heart for transplant was made available.
Hanna’s wife and three daughters waited out the five-hour operation in a room near the operating theater. They, too, declined to comment when informed by newsmen of the identity of the donor.
Hanna has since been reported to be in stable condition.
The operation was the ninth heart transplant performed at the hospital since it began those procedures 18 months ago.
Meanwhile, Traum will be buried Friday at Moshav Yodfat.
He and another IDF reservist, Col. Yisrael Trechtenbroit, 43, of Afula, suffered head wounds in the ambush. Trechtenbroit died instantly while Traum was rushed to Soroka Hospital in critical condition.
IDF sources said they were the first military casualties in the Gaza Strip caused by firearms since the Palestinian uprising began two years ago.
Gaza was declared a closed military zone and a massive manhunt was launched for the killers, believed to be three gunmen who used Kalachnikov automatic assault rifles and attacked the jeep from the rear.
The search continued Thursday, but curfews were lifted in most of the territory as the investigation shifted from ground search to intelligence work.
Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin visited the area, and assured the members of the unit to which the slain reservists were attached that the assailants would be caught.