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7 Israelis receive organs of young N.J. woman killed in Gaza bombing


JERUSALEM -- On the day Alisa Flatow died, she left seven gifts for Israel -- her heart, kidneys, liver, both lungs, both corneas.

Hour by hour yesterday, Israelis heard radio updates about one successful transplant operation after another in hospitals around the country.

Ms. Flatow, a 20-year-old Brandeis University junior from West Orange, N.J., was the eighth victim in a suicide bomb attack on a bus in the Gaza Strip; the seven others were Israeli soldiers. A piece of shrapnel tore through her skull.

She was touring Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip during a Passover break from studies at a Jerusalem seminary for women.

After doctors pronounced her brain-dead Monday, her father, Stephen Flatow, wept for hours at her bedside and consulted with rabbis in New Jersey and Jerusalem. With their blessings, the father authorized doctors to remove his eldest daughter's organs for donation.

And so, her heart was given to a 56-year-old man. "The heart saved his life," said Dr. Bernardo Vidneh, head of cardiac surgery at Beilinson Hospital outside Tel Aviv.

Her liver was given to a 23-year-old man.

Her lungs were given to Moshe Yamin, 65, and Malka Nir, 49, of Kiryat Ono.

Her kidneys and pancreas were given to a 42-year-old woman who had been on dialysis for three years.

And her corneas saved the eyesight of two people at Ichilov Sorocca Hospital in Beersheba, the hospital where she died.

The recipients' relatives blessed her. Said Esther Yamin, whose husband received a lung: "Now I can only thank the family who saved my husband.

"I saw her picture in the newspaper and my heart bled for her."

Ms. Nir's father told Israel Radio: "She wanted to live here in Israel and now after her death she has given life to someone else."

And perhaps Ms. Flatow left behind another gift -- spotlighting the need for organ donors in Israel.

Some Orthodox Jews believe the practice violates Jewish law, that bodies need to be whole for burial.

Only about nine Israelis per million donate their organs, compared with about 30 people per million in the United States.

Said Mr. Flatow: "This is Alisa's last contribution to the people of the state of Israel, which she loved so much."

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