Lives Saved Through First Arab-Israel Organ Exchange

Israel and the United Arab Emirates have enjoyed fruitful relations ever since their signing of the historic Abraham Accords last September. This week marked another instance of goodwill between the two: kidney transplants, the first organ exchange between Israel and an Arab state. Shani Markowitz underwent surgery to remove her kidney at Sheba Medical Center in Israel. Her kidney was flown from Ben Gurion Airport to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. At the same time, an Abu Dhabi woman was undergoing surgery to remove her kidney, which is en route to a woman at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Israel. The procedures were all connected: the Rambam patient’s husband is giving his kidney to Markowitz’s mother, while Markowitz’s kidney goes to the Abu Dhabi donor’s mother.

The complicated arrangement was necessary because none of the patients’ relatives had suitable matches for kidney transplants, The Times of Israel reported. Professor Eitan Mor, who performed the surgery at Sheba Medical Center, saw these procedures as a step toward greater cooperation between these two countries with a burgeoning friendship, saying, “I hope that this collaboration will open a door for collaboration in further fields of medicine between us and the Emirates.”

This news is exciting in the big picture, as it points to the strong relationship Israel and the United Arab Emirates are growing. On an individual level, certainly both families in need of transplants will receive what they need from this deal, but it’s heartwarming to see these families willing to undergo these transplants and donate their kidneys to strangers. It reminds me of the Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12: “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” This is a refreshing example of putting that biblical precept into practice!