‘I feel this woman of grace inside my body,’ says recipient of terror victim’s heart

Lital Valenci received one of the many organs the terror victim’s family donated after her death.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Lital Valenci is one of seven people who began a new life following the murder of Lucy (Leah) Dee in a Palestinian terror attack last month, after her family donated her heart, liver, kidneys, lungs and corneas – respecting her wish to help others not only during her lifetime.

Upon hearing about the Passover attack in which Rina (16) and Maya (20) Dee were murdered in a drive-by shooting in the Jordan Valley and their mother Lucy was critically injured, the 51-year-old mother of two prayed that Lucy would recover, she told Ynet.

“When I heard that they were fighting for Leah Dee’s life, a righteous, 48-year-old woman, I didn’t dream that I’d get her heart. I didn’t connect this story to me,” Valenci said, adding that she hadn’t actually heard the news when Dee succumbed to her injuries.

“When I heard that I’m going to get her heart, I collapsed. I started walking in the house without air, I muttered, ‘I have a heart.’ I had two hours to get to the hospital.”

When she woke up from the surgery and half a day in intensive care under sedation, she couldn’t stop crying, she said. “For me to live, someone had to die. She didn’t die because of me, but it’s still hard. How much love does the Creator of the world have to give me the heart of such a woman? The power of this woman of grace, I feel it inside my body.”

Valenci was moved to tears when she saw Dee’s husband, Rabbi Leo Dee, on television at the beginning of the torch-lighting ceremony that marked the beginning of Israel’s Independence Day last week.

“I felt like something in my heart was moving, as if Leah felt [her husband],” she said. “It was an out-of-body experience. Every time I see him on TV, I cry.”

She feels that her connection with the Dee family is no coincidence, she added. “For example, the name on my ID card is Rina Lital, and Leah’s daughter, who was also murdered, was called Rina.”

When asked what she would like to say to the Dee family, she responded, “Leah’s children will always be part of my family. I want to spend holidays with them. They can be here every day, live with us. My mother went to their house during the shiva (mourning period). She showed her daughters my photos and bought them a gift with a personal dedication. They hugged my mother…. I have so much love to give. I wish we could be one family.”

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Valenci had been waiting for a new heart for eight months, she said. Although she played sports, danced and had never smoked, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 heart failure four and a half years earlier, the most advanced stage of the disease. These patients, even while resting, continue to experience breathlessness and fatigue, and physical activity is rarely possible.

“Only 17% of my heart functioned. It was a miracle that I was even standing on my feet,” she said about the discovery. She was put on medication, had a pacemaker implanted, and was constantly going to the hospital for tests and medical procedures. But last fall, she almost fainted during a stress test and the doctors told her that the only solution was a new heart.

Valenci spoke to Petach Tikva News after her surgery and expressed her deep gratitude to the Dee family. “I wish for them that they know no more suffering. All that’s left for me is to comfort them,” she said.