President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday visited the hospital bedside of his wife, Nechama, who is currently under sedation and on a respirator but in stable condition after a sudden deterioration in her condition Tuesday evening.
The president told media that his wife was a “very strong woman” and “the world’s best mother and grandmother,” while doctors said that test results showed a “marked improvement” in her heart function and physiological readings.
Nechama Rivlin was rushed to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva with difficulty breathing Tuesday evening, almost three weeks after receiving a lung transplant, after a “serious cardiac incident caused by weakness in one of the valves in her heart.”
The president abruptly cut short a state visit to Canada to fly home on the next available Air Canada flight, which left around midnight Israel time. He went directly to the hospital to be at his wife’s side.
Rivlin thanked the medical staff and members of the public who have expressed their concern and prayers for the first lady from all across the country and the world, the President’s Residence said in a statement after the visit.
“I have just visited my wife, Nechama, and I am very encouraged,” he said. “Nechama had a cardiac condition that has been treated and I very much hope that when she wakes up she will be able to return to the recuperation she began immediately after the transplant.
“The long hours of the flight back from Canada to Israel were deeply worrying, but I know that my Nechama, our Nechama, is a very strong woman,” the president added. “She is the world’s best mother and grandmother and has also been a public servant over the past five years in many fields of Israeli society. She has received the most wonderful appreciation and support possible for that work.
“The wonderful team at Beilinson Hospital is an outstanding example of first-class public healthcare and we are deeply grateful to them. There is still a long road to recovery, we know, but Nechama will be back on it and we feel everyone’s support with us at every moment. Thank you so very much.”
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.
“In recent years, Mrs. Rivlin has suffered from pulmonary insufficiency and has required increasing medicinal treatment and oxygen support,” said Dr. Eytan Wirtheim, director of Rabin Medical Center, which Beilinson hospital is a part of. “Lung transplant is the last option for dealing with and treating this condition, and for regaining quality of life and functionality.
“Post-operation progress was complicated and lengthy but Mrs. Rivlin is a strong woman and highly motivated to recover,” he added. “With the support of her family, she did everything required to improve her lung function and regain physical strength. Unfortunately, last night she had a serious cardiac incident caused by weakness in one of the valves in her heart. She was diagnosed quickly and treated quickly.
“This morning, the echo-cardiogram results showed a marked improvement in heart function and physiological readings. We must, of course, continue to monitor over the next hours and days and we hope she returns to the state she was in over the last week or two.”
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.