First lady Nechama Rivlin in stable condition after ‘quiet night’ in hospital

President returns to Israel and heads to Beilinson Hospital, where his wife was rushed for ‘shortness of breath’ less than three weeks after lung transplant

President Reuven Rivlin with his wife Nechama at the French ambassador's home in Jaffa, on June 18, 2014. (Gideon Markowicz/Flash90)
President Reuven Rivlin with his wife Nechama at the French ambassador's home in Jaffa, on June 18, 2014. (Gideon Markowicz/Flash90)

The wife of President Reuven Rivlin was in stable condition Wednesday morning, but still under sedation and on a respirator, after a sudden deterioration in her condition the prior evening prompted her hospitalization.

Nechama Rivlin was rushed to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva with difficulty breathing almost three weeks after receiving a lung transplant.

The first lady was suffering from “severe shortness of breath with a cardiac link,” said a statement from the hospital, where the transplant operation took place.

In a separate statement Wednesday morning, the hospital said Rivlin had had a “quiet night” in its cardio-thoracic intensive care unit.

The president abruptly cut short a state visit to Canada on Tuesday to fly home on the next available Air Canada flight, which left around midnight Israel time. He arrived back in Israel and traveled directly to the hospital to be at his wife’s side, his office said in a statement.

The President’s Residence said he had been in constant contact with the hospital while making his way to Israel.

File: President Reuven Rivlin and his wife Nechama look at the snow-covered garden at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem after a snowstorm hit the capital in February 2015. (Haim Zach/GPO)

The rest of his delegation will depart on the previously scheduled El Al flight on Wednesday.

Nechama Rivlin, 73, has pulmonary fibrosis, a condition in which scar tissue accumulates in the lungs and makes it difficult to breathe.

She has usually been seen in public with a portable oxygen tank, including when accompanying her husband at official ceremonies.

The lung transplant was declared successful when it was completed on March 12, but doctors cautioned that her condition remained tenuous, and that she faced a long road to recovery.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein on Tuesday night urged Israelis “to say a prayer for her complete recovery.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he “wishes her a full recovery, together with all Israel’s citizens.”

Lung transplants in Israel, all of which are performed at Beilinson, have a 90 percent success rate, according to a report in the Haaretz daily.

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