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Israeli woman donates kidney to Palestinian boy on her birthday

Idit Harel Segal had decided to donate her kidney on her 50th birthday and went ahead with it against her family's wishes.

Israeli woman donates kidney to Palestinian boy on her birthday
Image source: Facebook/profile.php?id=100001374695937 (Idit)

A 50-year-old woman from Israel donated one of her kidneys to a 3-year-old Palestinian boy from the Gaza Strip, on her birthday. Idit Harel Segal has faced backlash from her own family owing to the tensions between Israel and Palestine. Idit Harel Segal, a kindergarten teacher, said she was inspired by her late grandfather, who is a Holocaust survivor. At the end of a nine-month process, she found that a stranger was in need of a kidney, a 3-year-old Palestinian boy from the Gaza Strip. "You don't know me, but soon we'll be very close because my kidney will be in your body," wrote Segal in Hebrew to the boy, whose family didn't know the language. With the help of a translator, the message was passed on in Arabic to the family, who remains unidentified due to tensions in the region arising from the displacement of Palestinians from their homes. "I hope with all my heart that this surgery will succeed and you will live a long and healthy and meaningful life," the kindergarten teacher wrote, reported AP. 



The 3-year-old from Gaza needed an urgent transplant but his case was complicated. His father's kidney was not a match for his son and his 3-year-old was way down the waiting list, but the hospital authorities told the man that his son would "immediately go to the top of the list" if the man were to donate his kidney to an Israeli recipient. He agreed and on the very same day, his son received a new kidney. The man had donated one of his own to a 25-year-old Israeli mother of two, said Sharona Sherman, the chief executive of Matnat Chaim, a nongovernmental organization in Jerusalem that coordinated the exchange.



Some countries do not allow reciprocity, because the donor can be coerced in certain cases. In Israel, it's an incentive to increase the pool of donors. "I threw away the anger and frustration and see only one thing. I see hope for peace and love. And if there will be more like us, there won't be anything to fight over," said Segal, as the IDF (Israeli defense forces) continues to launch attacks on Palestinians and displace them from their homes. Her husband said the donation of a kidney was potential 'waste,' highlighting the attacks on Palestinians. “Tomorrow there will be an [IDF] operation in Gaza and he’ll be killed, and then what have you accomplished?” asked Yuval, her husband, reported The Times Of Israel. 



In an interview from the comfort of her mountaintop home, Segal said the decision was 'personal and not political.' “The news of who was receiving the kidney did not make me regret it or reconsider it even for a minute. I felt that this is what was meant to happen, and not a day goes by that I’m not happy about saving the life of that sweet child,” said Segal. The decision to donate the kidney caused division in her family, with many opposing the idea. Her father had stopped talking to her. "My family was really against it. Everyone was against it. My husband, my sister, her husband. And the one who supported me the least was my father," said Segal. 

When she learned of the recipient's identity, it didn't deter her but she decided to keep that information away from her family. "I told no one," said Segal. "I told myself if the reaction to the kidney donation is so harsh, so obviously the fact that a Palestinian boy is getting it will make it even harsher." She had also visited the boy and his family on the eve of the surgery, spending time with them.


While many tried to dissuade her, Segal went ahead with it. Segal said she was just trying to live by the Jewish tradition, which holds that there's no higher duty than saving a life. It's apparently not a tradition that the Israeli defense forces live by. Earlier this week, Israeli forces killed a 12-year-old Palestinian boy named Mohammed al-Alami in the West Bank, said the Palestinian Ministry of Health, reported CNN. The Israeli forces also killed a 20-year-old man as he attended the 12-year-old boy's funeral. Shawkat Awad was shot in his abdomen and head, said the Palestinian Health Ministry, reported Haaretz.


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