Two patients at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, one Arab and one Jewish, both in need of kidney transplants, received the life saving donations they needed from each others families.

Two patients who badly needed kidney transplants, one Arab and the other Jewish, managed to save the others life by having one of their relatives donate their kidney to help the other patient survive. 32-year-old Mohammad Eckert’s wife, Rasha, age 30, donated her kidney to 57-year-old David Ben-Yair, while David’s son Shmuel, age 34, gave his kidney to Mohammed. The rare procedure was performed at Rambam Hospital’s Medical Transplantation Unit by Dr. Rawi Ramadan, an Arab physician who is the director of Rambam’s Transplantation Unit. Two men, who didn’t know each other prior to this, are now connected to one another through a bond of gratitude.

The procedure which was performed, known as a crossover transplantation, is not common in Israel and is performed whenever there is no match between a patient and his family members. “We test every patient that has a living donor in order to evaluate if such a transplant can be done within the family,” Dr. Ramadan told the Jewish Press. “But sometimes one of the patients has a blood type or antibodies that don’t match with the other family member. In this particular case, the Jewish father had antibodies in his blood that weren’t an exact match with his son.”

He continued, “With today’s medical technologies, we could have actually performed the transplant within the same family but we would have had to give them a lot of pre-operative medications, which come with both short-term and long-term side effects. Thus, it was better to do the exchange between the Jewish and Arab families, as both patients received the same quality of kidneys and we were able to treat them with a minimal amount of anti-rejection medications.” Dr. Ramadan told Israel Hayom that when the idea for crossover transplantation was discussed, the four Haifa residents didn’t hesitate: “To them, it didn’t matter who donated to whom. As far as they are concerned, they donated a kidney to a family member, and their donation saved a life.”


There are many cases of Jewish people and Arab people saving each others lives. An Arab paramedic saved the life of a three-year-old Jewish child that was injured by a Palestinian rock thrower, while an Israeli couple donated the kidney of their son to save the life of a Palestinian boy. As a matter of policy, Israel has routinely put the conflict aside to save Palestinian lives, as demonstrated by Rambam Hospital saving the life of a two-year-old Palestinian child and Tel Hashomer Hospital saving the life of a disabled Palestinian child that was abandoned by his family.


Dr. Rawi Ramadan is also not the only Arab to thrive in the medical profession in Israel. The head of emergency medicine at Hadassah Hospital, Dr. Rifat Safedi, is also Arab, as is Dr. Rifat Safedi, who is the head of the Liver Unit at Hadassah Hospital and has uncovered the gene linked to liver disease.

By Rachel Avraham, staff writer for United with Israel