Georgian Makes Emergency Aliyah for Liver Transplant


22_wa1The life of a 19-year-old Georgian Jewish girl was saved last month at Rabin Medical Center in Petach Tikvah after the youth, in need of an urgent liver transplant, received Israeli citizenship in a rushed process just three days before the operation to maker her eligible. The youth, Miriam Kisishvili was visiting Israel as part of the Taglit-Birthright Israel project, when she fell ill some two-and-a-half weeks ago, and was hospitalized at Yoseftal Medical Center in Eilat after suffering from edema and abdominal pains.  Miriam was diagnosed with liver disease and flown to Rabin Medical Center, where doctors discovered the girl suffered from a genetic disorder called Wilson’s disease, that erupts suddenly and destroys the liver.

 The girl’s mother immediately flew in from Georgia, and doctors planned a liver lobe transplant from the mother. At the last minute, however, Miriam received an organ donation from an Israeli that died of a stroke.

 In addition to the medical drama, the Rabin Medical Center’s administration appealed to the Prime Minister Office’s Nativ unit, that deals with Jews of the former Soviet Union, and requested Miriam be granted an aliyah visa, and the bureaucratic race began.

Miriam received approval for citizenship two days later, and became an Israeli citizen, who is eligible, according to the transplant law, to undergo a transplant from a dead donor in Israel – an option that is not available for non-Israelis.

Also, by virtue of her Israeli citizenship, Miriam received medical insurance for the funding of the operation, that would have cost her NIS 850,000 (nearly $200,000) otherwise.

Dr. Boaz Tadmor, the hospital’s director said, “In light of the girl’s serious medical condition, it was clear to me that it was our duty to do whatever we could to save her life. We knew she wouldn’t survive the flight back to Georgia and we knew she couldn’t get a liver transplant over there.

“We did what we are obligated to do according to the doctor’s oath, and we worked to have her naturalized so we could find her medical insurance. In this case, the end justified the means.”

Three days after her naturalization and due to her serious condition, Miriam was at the top of the list for organ donations, and a suitable liver was found.

Almost two weeks after the operation, Miriam is in good condition, and healing from the operation with her mother and brother, who has also applied to make aliyah, by her side. 

The department’s social worker, Rachel Zinger, has been helping Miriam open a bank account, receive her “absorption package” and find a housing solution, so she will have a place to stay after being released from the hospital.

Yesterday, Miriam wished to thank the medical staff and everyone who helped her receive her citizenship. “In Georgia I didn’t have any problems, I was completely healthy. Everything that happened here came as a surprise. I still can’t believe what happened.  

“Right now I’m okay and I have a lot of strength to go on living. I would like to thank the donor’s family, even thought I do not know them, they gave me a new life.”

 Miriam said that she had planned to settle in Israel even before the disease erupted. “I planned to go back to Georgia, complete my law studies and later mate aliyah. I have decided to stay here, to study and become a lawyer.”

 {Yair Israel/Ynet}