Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital Suspends Organ Transplants for a Month

Reports allege that dispute between senior physicians and hospital management has compromised transplant operations.

Moti Milrod

Health and transplant experts agreed on Saturday night that Hadassah University Hospital will not perform any transplants for the coming month, following reports that a lengthy internal dispute between senior physicians and the hospital’s management had compromised the transplant system at the Jerusalem hospital.

The decision was reached by the Health Ministry, the National Transplant Center and Hadassah Hospital.

The National Transplant Center has been considering stopping transplants at Hadassah for the past few weeks, at least temporarily, and last night’s decision came as no surprise. The decision was made in a conversation between the hospital management, Health Ministry director general Prof. Arnon Afek, and the director of the National Transplant Center, Dr. Tamar Ashkenazi. It was decided to stop the transplants for a month and formulate a new plan that will allow the hospital’s transplant team, some of whose members were recently appointed, to reorganize.

The Health Ministry said in a statement that the decision had been made “in keeping with the recommendation of the chairman of the National Transplant Center, Prof. Rafi Biar, who last week conducted monitoring at Hadassah, received the expected transplant plan and met with doctors and management at the hospital.”

Officials in the health care system had said earlier that the transplant center was tending toward deciding to temporarily stop transplants at Hadassah following recent events, which began with a serious conflict between senior physicians in the surgery and transplant departments and hospital management over the hospital’s streamlining plan, and which damaged the functioning of the transplant unit.

This is a serious blow to the hospital in terms both of its image and economically, especially in a period when it is fighting for its existence.

The affair began three weeks ago when Channel 2 reported that, because of the conflict between management and the head of the transplant unit, Dr. Hadar Merhav – whom the hospital has been trying to dismiss for the past eight months – a liver transplant for a 50-year-old woman had been delayed. According to the report, because management refused to allow Merhav to do the transplant, another colleague (Dr. Menahem Ben-Haim) refused to do it. As a result, the transplant was not carried out and the liver was buried with the donor.

About 10 days ago, Ben-Haim resigned. In a letter he wrote to the Transplant Center, he claimed the liver transplant affair was just one of a series of incidents casting doubt on the unit’s ability to function.