IDF finds Syrian marrow donor for sick Arab girl


Using blood samples delivered in tea towels from war-torn Syria, Israeli doctors have cured a six-year-old Syrian girl suffering from a rare blood disease.

The girl was brought to the border between Syria and Israel needing help with a then-unknown illness, and the Israeli military took her to Rambam Hospital in Haifa, where doctors discovered that she had aplastic anaemia and was in urgent need of bone marrow.

This week, medical staff at Rambam gave her a farewell party before her return to Syria after her seven-month treatment.

They cured her by identifying a bone marrow donor using test-tubes of blood brought in tea towels from Syria, where the regime and several of the opposition groups in the civil war regard Israel as an enemy.

At the party, the girl, who is not being named for fears about her safety, wore a white dress and a crown, and danced with Rambam's Jewish and Arab staff, who gave her gifts including a backpack for the start of school.

The girl's mother, who with her throughout her stay, told staff: "I would lie if I said that I expected the kind of humanity I discovered here. I am grateful for your care and sensitivity; may God protect you. And we will always remember what you did for us."

The Israeli military will now settle the bill for her treatment.

Ayelet Ben Barak, a doctor who took a central role in caring for her, said that the IDF had faced the biggest challenge in sourcing a donor. "They organised it - I don't know how but after two-and-a-half months it arrived.

"We did not know when it would be with us. One night, her mother, a religious Muslim, was praying for it to arrive and the girl said she should pray, too. It arrived the next day."

It turned out that two of her siblings matched her bone marrow type, and doctors chose her 18-year-old brother, who was taken at the border for a four-week stay at Rambam.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive