Those we have lost

Staff Sgt. Yehonatan Semo, 21: Legacy and organs live on

Paratrooper injured during heavy fighting in central Gaza Strip on November 8; succumbed two days later

Yehonatan Semo (courtesy)
Yehonatan Semo (courtesy)

Staff Sgt. Yehonatan Semo, 21, of the Paratrooper’s 202nd Battalion, was injured while fighting in Gaza on November 8. He was hospitalized but succumbed to his wounds on November 10, after which his parents donated his organs.

Semo grew up in Karmei Zur and went to high school at Naveh Shmuel Yeshiva High School in Efrat, where he was described as a natural leader. He was one of three soldiers from the same class who were killed in the Gaza offensive.

Semo “was loved by everyone, the glue which held his peers together… he was a people person, and his kind of person becomes a good soldier,” said Rabbi Avishai Milner, Rosh Yeshiva of Neveh Shmuel.

Because he was hospitalized before he died, a group of his classmates were able to make a late-night visit to his bed and interact with his family. He is survived by his parents and four younger siblings.

Semo had signed up to be an organ donor, and his family said they had no hesitation in complying with his wishes. After his death, his organs were donated and saved the lives of six others.

“He didn’t think twice about the importance of donating his organs. That was Yehonatan. He did everything with a smile and from understanding, accountability, and the will to help. The fact that part of him will continue to live and help others… there is nothing more uplifting than that,” his mother said. She added that her son had inspired “many others” to also fill out their organ donor cards.

The Semo family was able to meet at least two of the recipients: Yaakov Malka, 46, who received Yehonatan Semo’s heart, and 9-month-old Tehila, who received a lobe of Semo’s liver, helping her recover from a life-threatening congenital liver disease.

Ayelet Semo (right) meets 9-month-old Tehila and her mother at Schneider Children’s Medical Center on November 20, 2023. Tehila is the recipient of a transplanted liver lobe from Samo’s son Yehonatan, who died on November 10, 2023 after being injured in the war against Hamas. (Courtesy of Schneider Children Medical Center)

Read more Those We Have Lost stories here. 

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