Nechama Rivlin, the wife of President Reuven Rivlin, died Tuesday morning at the age of 73, the President’s Residence said in a statement.
The statement said Rivlin died on the eve of her 74th birthday at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, where she was being treated after relapsing following a lung transplant in March.
“Three months after a lung transplant, Nechama Rivlin died this morning,” Beilinson Hospital said in a statement. “To our regret, the medical efforts to stabilize her over time during the complicated rehabilitation period after the transplant did not succeed.”
The president posted a picture of his wife on Facebook along with the words “My Nechama.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered his condolences to the Rivlin family.
“Along with all the citizens of Israel, my wife Sara and I feel deep sorrow at the death of the president’s wife, Nechama Rivlin,” Netanyahu said in a brief statement.
“We all prayed for her recovery during the recent period during which she fought bravely and intensely for her life. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the president and to all his family,” he said.
Rivlin, 73, suffered from pulmonary fibrosis, a condition in which scar tissue accumulates in the lungs and makes it difficult to breathe. In the years before the transplant, she had usually been seen in public with a portable oxygen tank, including 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.
Nechama Rivlin was taken to the hospital in April after a sudden deterioration in her condition, almost three weeks after receiving the transplant.
Nechama Rivlin was born in 1945 in Moshav Herut in the Sharon region. She married Reuven Rivlin in 1971, and worked for many years at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, until her retirement in 2007, at which point her lung condition was discovered.
“When Nechama moved to the President’s Residence, she chose to focus on art, activities for children with special needs, the environment and nature, through compassion and love of people,” the President’s Residence said in a statement.
“Nechama set up a community garden in the garden of the President’s Residence, where children from all over the country came to plant herbs and flowers on a regular basis,” it said.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelsterin offered his condolences to Rivlin on behalf of the legislature. “She was a special person, her bright and shining countenance touched everyone she encountered. She will be greatly missed,” he said in a statement.
Blue and While party leader Benny Gantz also extended condolences, saying the first lady was a “wonderful woman whose face was always shining no matter what difficulty she faced.”
Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau called Nechama Rivlin a “woman of valor” who for many years “stood by her husband as he served the public with endless devotion and humility.”
Rivlin will be buried Wednesday at the Mount Herzl national cemetery in Jerusalem.