First lady Nechama Rivlin rushed to hospital with ‘severe’ breathing problems
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First lady Nechama Rivlin rushed to hospital with ‘severe’ breathing problems

President cuts short state visit to Canada as wife is treated for ‘shortness of breath’ less than three weeks after lung transplant

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)
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 wife of President Reuven Rivlin was rushed to a hospital Tuesday evening with difficulty breathing, almost three weeks after receiving a lung transplant.

Nechama Rivlin was suffering from “severe shortness of breath with a cardiac link,” said a statement from Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, where the transplant operation took place and where she was hospitalized on Tuesday.

The hospital said the first lady was under sedation and on a respirator, after “a sudden deterioration in her condition.”

The president abruptly cut short a state visit to Canada on Tuesday to fly home on the next available Air Canada flight, which leaves around midnight Israel time. The rest of his delegation will depart on the previously scheduled El Al flight on Wednesday.

He is expected back in Israel Wednesday at 9 a.m. local time, and will travel directly to the hospital to be at his wife’s side, the President’s Residence said in a statement.

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 her condition remained tenuous, and that she faced a long road to recovery.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein urged Israelis “to say a prayer this evening 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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