BEIRUT: Caretaker Health Minister Ali Hasan Khalil approved Wednesday a request to pay for an organ donation operation that will see six Lebanese in need of transplants benefit from the heart, kidneys and other body parts of a Syrian refugee woman who died recently.
“This is the first time that a refugee has donated organs to Lebanese patients,” a Health Ministry source told The Daily Star. “The ministry doesn’t normally cover the expenses of any organ donation operation; however in this case it was covered because the family of the deceased approved the donation ... that’s why it had to get the minister’s approval.”
The National Organization for Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation had filed a request to the ministry to cover the medical expenses of the organ transplant, after the Syrian woman died at Our Lady of Lebanon Hospital in Jounieh.
The Syrian woman, identified as Robstine Abdel-Rahman Nader, clinically died on July 6, a medical term to describe the condition when blood circulation and breathing ceases. Her family approved the donation of six organs to a list of patients in need; they included her heart, kidneys, her corneas and her liver.
The operation was performed on July 7. Removing major organs usually takes between 13-15 hours, while a procedure to remove corneas usually takes 30 minutes.
Mohammad Hammoud was identified as the patient who received her heart, Fitna Darjani her liver, Maher Tass one of her kidneys, and Jamal Allaw the other kidney.
The National Eye Bank has yet to announce the names of those who will receive the two donated corneas.
Organ donations are carried out with the approval of the NOOTDT.
The ministry said it would cover the operation costs and the expenses associated with sending Nader’s body back to her family, who have been displaced to Iraq.
In March, local health professionals announced a series of recommendations to correct the country’s organ and tissue donation practices, beginning with cornea operations.
The recommendations included centralizing the country’s donations under the NOOTDT, an organization which works in partnership with a French organ donation program.
The recommendations were endorsed by the Health Ministry, the Order of Physicians and some hospitals.