Israel, UAE swap kidneys in historic life-saving operation

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A kidney donated from an Israeli woman was flown on a charter flight from Tel Aviv to the United Arab Emirates in a historic organ transplant exchange.

Surgeons removed the kidney from Shani Markowitz Manshar, 39, at the Sheba Medical Center before loading it into a chilled ice-filled box ahead of its three and a half hour flight to the UAE’s capital of Abu Dhabi.

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As part a wider organ donation program between the two countries, Manshar’s mother will now also receive a transplant from a donor in the UAE.

She is due to be admitted to Sheba Medical center later this week to receive a healthy organ from a relative of the donor who provided a kidney for the unnamed UAE patient.

Professor Eytan Mor, head of transplant center in Sheba Medical center – Israel’s largest hospital, said on Wednesday that the surgery was a success and would open the door for more life-saving organ donations in both countries.

“Today is the start of a wonderful collaboration with our colleagues from the Emirates and Abu Dhabi,” he said.

“We discussed this potential collaboration in the area of organ transplantation six months ago with the Ministry of Health’s representative who visited us here in Tel Aviv.”

“Within six months we have fulfilled the first organ exchange between Israel and Abu Dhabi.”

“The kidney that we harvested has been shipped to Abu Dhabi.”

“I hope this will open the door for further collaboration in other fields of medicine between our countries.”

The exchange is part of a wider organ donation program between the two countries that will develop over the coming months.

An agreement has been signed between Sheba Medical center, the Department of Health Abu Dhabi and Dubai Health Authority to promote medical tourism between Israel and the UAE.

Under that agreement, Sheba will offer treatment to 300 patients from the UAE’s security forces and a training program for Emirati medics.

Since the signing of the Abraham Accords on September 15, crafted by the administration of then-US President Donald Trump, multiple agreements have been signed in the fields of health, aviation, tourism, food security, agriculture, and defense among others.

Earlier this month the UAE officially opened the Gulf’s first embassy in Tel Aviv in a flag-raising ceremony in what Israeli President Isaac Herzog called “an important milestone in our journey towards the future, peace prosperity and security” for the Middle East.

Last month Israel’s new foreign minister Yair Lapid also inaugurated its embassy in the UAE during a two-day trip to the country.

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