At 5:30 a.m. on a Wednesday, July 28, doctors at Sheba Medical Center removed a kidney from Shani Markowitz. The surgery went smoothly, and the organ was raced to Ben Gurion Airport in a special cool box and flown to Abu Dhabi.
Meanwhile, a woman in Abu Dhabi underwent surgery, and her kidney was sent to Israel. It was intended for another woman, hospitalized in northern Israel, whose husband gave a kidney to Markowitz’s mother – while Markowitz’s kidney has gone to the mother of the Abu Dhabi donor.
This complex arrangement was undertaken because none of the aforementioned patients had relatives whose kidneys were suitable for them. It is part of a wider organ donation program between the UAE and Israel, that will develop over the coming months, making this the first historic kidney transplant between the two countries.
According to Steve Walz, Sheba’s Global Media Spokesperson, “We are now able to do things that weren’t possible before thanks to the Abraham Accords, and helping citizens in the Gulf is a top priority for us. This program is expected to open the door for more life-saving organ donations in both countries during the next couple of months.”
For his part, Prof. Eitan Mor, Director of the Organ Transplant Center at Sheba Medical Center, who conducted Shani Markowitz’s operation, explains: “We started the procedure at 5:30 in the morning to accommodate the flight times so that the kidney will not stay for too long in the cooler. It is the start of a wonderful partnership with our colleagues from the Emirates and Abu Dhabi, and I hope that this success will open a door for further collaborations in other fields of medicine.”