Nechama Rivlin, wife of President Reuven Rivlin, was awake and alert Tuesday morning after a undergoing a lung transplant the day before.
“Nechama was taken off respiration this morning, she is awake, and she is talking and making contact with the medical team and members of her family,” the President’s Residence said in a statement.
Doctors at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, where Rivlin is being treated, noted that the early days after a transplant are “critical,” and that Rivlin faces a long road to recovery, the statement said. Medical staff are satisfied with her progress so far.
Rivlin, 73, suffers from 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.
Prof. Mordechai Kramer, the pulmonary care expert who is treating Rivlin, told Army Radio that his patient had shown “great improvement.”
“We have taken out the breathing tube and now she is alert and conscious,” he said, adding that Rivlin’s “strong personality is a great contribution to a quick recovery.”
Following a lung transplant, patients usually stay in the hospital for two weeks before being released, he explained.
“We are only at the start of the journey. There could still be rejection or infections. We need to monitor her carefully,” Kramer said.
Rivlin, he added, had been put on the lung transplant list over a year ago.
Kramer explained that over time, the amount of oxygen Rivlin needed was going up and her ability to breathe was dropping.
“Had she not received a transplant in the coming months her condition would have become very serious or required respiration,” he said.
The president visited his wife on Monday and was expected to visit her again Tuesday while still striving to maintain his busy schedule, Kramer said.
A donor lung became available after Yair Yehezkel Halabli, 19, from Ramat Gan drowned on Friday while diving in Eilat. His family authorized the donation of several of his organs.
One lung went to another woman, also under Kramer’s care, and the second patient is also progressing well. Doctors were hoping to also take her off respiration later Tuesday, Kramer said.
There are 55-60 lung transplants a year, Kramer noted, and 100 people on the waiting list.