Hadassah Hospital Transplants Resume After Three-month Hiatus

Transplants were stopped in November after series of events cast doubts on medical center's ability to perform these operations.

Moti Milrod

Transplants are resuming at Hadassah Medical Center as the Health Ministry this week agreed to allow the program to restart after it was suspended three months ago.

The transplants, which bring some 25 million shekels ($6.4 million) of income annually to the hospital, were stopped in November after a series of events that cast doubt on its ability to perform these operations. According to reports, during October a lengthy internal dispute between senior physicians and hospital management undermined the transplant program and caused harm to patients waiting for transplants.

As a result, the hospital management, the Health Ministry director-general and the National Transplant Center decided together that Hadassah would stop doing transplants for a month, until the program could be reorganized, but the suspension lasted three months.

According to the hospital’s announcement, Dr. Hadar Merhav, director of the transplant unit, who had been engaged in a lengthy dispute with hospital management, will continue in his post, and be assisted by another transplant expert, Dr. Abed Khalaileh. The transplant staff is also being augmented by other senior physicians in fields related directly to transplants, including anaesthesiology, liver diseases, kidney diseases, blood vessels and more.

Hadassah has also updated its control, quality and safety procedures for every stage of the transplant procedure, the hospital said.

“We are pleased to renew the transplant program at Hadassah and we plan to broaden it to include transplants of live donor livers and pancreases,” said acting Hadassah CEO Prof. Tamar Peretz. In recent years Hadassah has performed 20 to 40 transplants a year. Last October, Channel 2 reported that because of the lengthy dispute between Merhav and the hospital, which tried to fire him, a liver transplant for a 50-year-old woman was canceled. According to the report, the hospital’s refusal to let Merhav perform the transplant angered a colleague, Dr. Mendy Ben-Haim, who refused to do it instead. As a result, the liver was buried with the potential donor instead of being transplanted. Ben-Haim has since left the hospital.