Jessa’s Story

17Aug09

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Jessa Perin (16) is from Cincinnati. She came to Israel with Birthright last July. On Tuesday July 19, while touring in the north with her group, Jessa became very sick with no visible reason. Her condition deteriorated rapidly and she was taken to a hospital in northern Israel. While Israeli members of her family were trying to find out if she could be transferred to Hadassah, the hospital in the north consulted with Hadassah Ein Kerem regarding the best thing for her. Dr. Rifat Safadi from Hadassah’s liver unit decided that she had to be taken to Hadassah immediately, and this happened the same night.

Upon arrival, Jessa underwent a series of tests which showed very clearly that she was in real danger unless she was undergoing a liver transplantation.

This created a serious problem. On one hand we had a girl who was in critical condition and needed an urgent liver transplant, while she wasn’t even on the waiting list. On the other hand, according to Israeli Law, only Israeli citizens are allowed to undergo organ transplantation. And on yet another hand, her medical condition was unstable and doctors feared she couldn’t survive the flight to America.

We took three parallel courses of immediate action:

1. The doctors, headed by Prof. Yaron Ilan, started treatment to stabilize Jessa, to prepare her for either undergoing the transplant at Hadassah or to fly home and undergo the operation there.
2. The national committee for organ transplantations was approached, and Jessa was put on top of the waiting list for organs.
3. We contacted the office of the Israeli Minister of Interior, presented the story and asked them to find an arrangement that will allow her to undergo the operation in Israel if needed.

After a few days of treatment at Hadassah, Jessa’s condition stabilized and she was flown to the USA, where she successfully underwent liver transplantation in Columbia Presbitarian Hospital in New York. The liver was donated by the family of a 7 y/o boy from Tennessee. She spent a few more days there, recovering. After being released from the hospital, she stayed with her family in New York for further treatments and recovery before she returned to Cincinati.

As in many other times, this was a “production” that involved many teams of various professionals from several departments. Such an operation means that basically the hospital is mobilized for finding solutions to a very rare situation. It takes a decision in senior management level (Dr. Yuval Weiss, director of the hospital), and a close involvement of many people, such as Prof. Yaron Ilan, Prof. David Linton, Dr. Sigal Sviri, Dr. Gadi Lalazar, Dr. Meir Mizrachi, Dr. Rifat Safadi, Dr. Micha Shamir; ER nurses Gilat Yihye, Merav Kamer, Inbal Sadon; and many other professionals in the CEM, Internal Medicine Intensive Care Unit and even my office.

You must have asked yourself if there’s a “Hadassah connection” to the story. Well, there is indeed.

Jessa’s uncle who lives in Israel is Richi Yuran. Prior to making Aliyah in 1977, Richi was a regional director in Young Judea. Richi was married to Judi Yuran, a Young Judea graduate. For the last 20 years Judy has been a social worker at Hadassah Ein-Kerem. Richi told me that Charlotte Jacobson is a family relative of his mother.

Last but not least, it is my understanding that this story will find its way to the New York times this coming Tuesday.

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