For the first time, doctors from the Palestinian territories occupied in 1948 performed kidney transplant operations in the Gaza Strip. Dr Abed Khalayleh, Director of the Organ Transplantation Unit at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital, and Dr Samer Diab, a Vascular Surgeon from Rambam Hospital, both members of the Physicians for Human Rights Association, performed two kidney transplants over the weekend on Palestinian patients from the Gaza Strip.
Dr Khalayleh and Dr Diab both arrived in the Gaza Strip as part of the Physicians for Human Rights delegation which visited the Gaza Strip during the weekend to carry out medical activities. The number of delegation members totalled 25 doctors and medical staff, who performed surgeries, brought in medications and medical equipment, provided medical care to patients and held mental health rehabilitation courses.
The two kidney transplants were performed at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. The first operation was performed on a 27-year-old girl from Gaza City, whose father donated his kidney.
The second operation was performed on a 25-year-old girl from Nuseirat refugee camp, who received a kidney from her sister. The operations were carried out after several weeks of preparatory work, led by Physicians for Human Rights and in coordination with Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. The preparations included meetings via Zoom between the surgeons and the medical staff at Al-Shifa Hospital, in addition to taking blood samples from the patients and sending them to Hadassah Hospital, which cost tens of thousands of shekels in order to ensure the organs being transplanted were a match, and buying injections and special medicines for them.
Only a few kidney transplants have been performed, from time to time, in Gaza by two doctors, one from the UK and the other from Jordan. However, Israel has stopped allowing the Jordanian doctor to enter Gaza, which has caused a reduction in the number of such operations in Gaza.
The two operations that took place in Al-Shifa Hospital are in addition to 16 other surgeries that were performed by the doctors of the Physicians for Human Rights delegation, including 9 orthopaedic surgeries in Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis, under the supervision of D .Mustafa Yassin and Dr Mahmoud Khatib, two specialist orthopaedic doctors from Hasharon Hospital, 7 eye surgeries under the supervision of Dr Ahed Mtairat, an ophthalmologist from Soroka Hospital, and a vascular operations under the supervision of Dr Jamal Hijazi, a vascular surgeon at Shaare Zedekk Medical Centre, at the European Hospital in Jerusalem.
The members of the medical delegation also held medical days, along with the operations, in the fields of family medicine and gynaecology, both of which were held in the Nuseirat refugee camp, where more than 330 patients were examined. As for the psychologists, who are members of the delegation, they held vocational rehabilitation courses in the field of mental health for Palestinian mental health teams from the Gaza Centre for Mental Health, the Palestinian Ministry of Health and the Medical Centre for Trauma Victims in Gaza City. The visit also included the delivery of medical equipment and medicine worth more than 300,000 shekels (about $87,000).
Salah Haj Yahya, Director of the Physicians for Human Rights delegation, said, “The Gaza Strip has been suffering for a long time, 365 days a year, for more than 15 years, as a result of the Israeli blockade that suffocates the civilian population and prevents them from the possibility of establishing liveable conditions; it violates the Palestinians’ political, civil, economic and social rights. The delegation’s visit, along with its medical purposes, is a form of solidarity with the suffering and hardship of the residents of Gaza. It is a clear message that there is a need to stop the illegal Israeli policy of blockade.”