Israeli soldier dies in tragic training accident, but his organs save five

Organs of IDF soldier killed in training mishap save several lives including man whose lungs were destroyed by coronavirus.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Five people have received the organs of an IDF soldier killed last week in a training accident, including a man whose lungs were destroyed by the coronavirus, Ynet reported Sunday.

Sgt. Yonatan Granot, 22, died Friday after being accidentally shot in the head at an IDF shooting range. His family donated his organs and recipients received his heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas.

His lungs were transplanted into a 54-year-old man on the verge of death after being in serious condition for months with coronavirus.

With only machines keeping him alive, the lung transplant was the only choice for the patient who had no background diseases when he contracted the virus about two and a half months ago and suffered severe and irreversible damage to his lungs.

“There are always two parallel universes in these tragedies,” Dr. Liran Levy, director of the transplant service at Sheba Medical Center told Ynet. “In one universe there is infinity of sadness and grief, and in another universe there is hope and a new beginning.”

“This is an amazing opportunity for this patient,” said Dr. Levy.

“Several dozen such transplants have already been performed abroad, but in Israel this is the first case, and it gives hope to patients who are in a very difficult situation in intensive care units,” Levy said, adding that the patient was only alive because he was connected to an Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) machine – a device to artificially oxygenate his blood because his lungs had ceased being able to do so.

“So far we have stretched the limit, we have kept these patients on ECMO and put them on the device for many months … This is their last hope,” Levy said.

During the operation, Levy said the surgeons were shocked by the severity of the lung damage.

“”His lungs were white, and when we opened the chest to remove these lungs, we saw that the catastrophe was much greater,” Levy noted, adding the patient required dozens of units of blood.

The director of the Sheba Institute of Lung Diseases, Dr. Amir On, added that the transplant surgery was extremely difficult, but the team got the patient through it and he was cautiously optimistic.

“The transplant recipient was a healthy person, so his chances of surviving the transplant look good at the moment after he has passed the very critical stage of the surgery,” Dr. On said. “We hope he will get through it successfully.”

Granot was laid to rest Sunday at Kibbutz Einat in central Israel. At the request of the family, there was no media coverage of the funeral.