A 10-year-old boy who died Sunday after falling from a cliff during a hike in southern Israel has given five other people a new lease on life through organ donation.
Doctors said Elai Nir succumbed to massive head trauma after two days of intensive efforts to save his life following the fall during a hike on Friday, during which his father Omri Nir was killed on the spot while trying to catch him.
The family donated his organs, leading to a marathon transplant effort at Schneider Children’s Medical Center in the hours following the death.
Almog Garibelli, an 8-year-old boy from the center of the country who had been waiting a long time for a transplant, is in stable condition and recovering after receiving Nir’s heart. His mother, Rivka, told Channel 2 that “I immediately understood where [the heart] came from. I am so grateful to this mother who gave life to my son and to other children.”
Garibelli praised Nir’s mother, sharing her pain at such a terrible situation. “Her son’s heart will always beat in my son’s body, and most importantly, her son will continue to live forever,” she said.
“The operation was successful and without complications,” said Dr. Gabi Amir, head of cardiology in Schneider Hospital. “It is difficult to comprehend the terrible tragedy.”
A 4-year-old girl received Nir’s liver. His two kidneys will also be transplanted soon to two young people and a 55-year-old woman will receive his lungs in an operation to be performed in Beilinson Hospital.
Staff at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba said Sunday that Nir died of serious head injuries and organ damage after falling from a ladder as he scaled a rock face in Nahal Tze’elim in the Negev.
His father, university lecturer Dr. Omri Nir, dived after his son as he saw him tumble, shielding him as the two plunged down the side of the cliff. The elder Nir died of the injuries he sustained during the fall.
Nir, an expert in Lebanese history and politics from Moshav Kfar Vitkin in central Israel, lectured at Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
More than 1,000 people attended the funeral of Omri Nir and his son, who were buried side by side in Kfar Vitkin at 3 p.m. on Monday.