Nechama Rivlin, wife of President Reuven Rivlin, underwent a lung transplant Monday when an Israeli youth who died in a diving accident in Eilat was found to be a suitable donor.
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.
A donor lung became available after Yair Yehezkel Halabli, 19, from Ramat Gan drowned on Friday while diving in Eilat, Walla news reported. His family authorized the donation of several of his organs.
“Nechama Rivlin underwent a lung transplant today at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva,” the president’s spokesperson said in a statement.
Her condition was stable after the procedure, the spokesperson said.
The complex operation took several hours and was performed by Prof. Dan Aravot, director of cardiothoracic surgery at Beilinson, assisted by Rivlin’s personal physician, Prof. Mordechai Kremer, himself a lung specialist at the hospital.
“It is very moving that my brother’s lung was transplanted into the body of the president’s wife, and I wish her a full recovery,” Halabli’s sister, Amit, told Walla News. “We will be happy to meet with the president’s wife and the president after she has recovered from the operation.”
“We in the family believe that Yair came into the world in order to do good and give light, that’s part of his light,” she said.