(TPS) In an emotional encounter, the family of Leah (Lucy) Dee met on Tuesday for the first time with the woman who received their slain mother’s heart in a transplant at the Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikvah.
“Listening to my mother’s heartbeat made me feel like I am with her. It was moving, meeting Lital and all the recipients, we have lost so much but are comforted that so many families were saved from similar pain,” said 19-year-old Keren Dee.
“Nobody can understand what it is like losing a mother and two sisters at once, and to hear my mother’s heartbeat was comforting,” added 17-year-old Tali.
The recipient was Lital Valenci, a 51-year-oid mother of two who had suffered severe heart failure for the past five years.
“I was so moved when I learned who I was receiving a heart from as I had read about Lucy Dee and what an incredible woman she was with an exemplary family,” Valenci said.
Dee, a 48-year-old British-Israeli national living in Efrat was the third fatality from a Palestinian drive-by shooting in the northern Israel on April 7. Also killed in the attack were her two daughters, Maya and Rina, ages 20 and 16 respectively.
The daughters felt their mother’s heartbeat through Lital’s chest while Rabbi Leo Dee and his son Yehuda stood by their side. Valenci expressed her condolences to the family on the loss of their wife and mother and shared how appreciative she was to both Leah and the family for giving her a new lease on life.
Leah was on life support at the Beilinson Hospital when she died, and doctors were able to immediately remove her organs. In addition to her heart, Dee’s lungs, liver and kidneys were also transplanted into other different people, creating a surge of Israeli interest in organ donations.
The family also met with 51-year-old Mordechai Elkabitz who received a kidney after waiting seven years for a suitable donor, and 25-year-old Daniel Geresh who received Dee’s liver.
Another kidney recipient, 38-year-old Ahmed Suliman was not able to attend the gathering, but sent a plaque inscribed with Biblical verses in Dee’s memory.
“There was not a dry eye in the room as Keren and Tali raised their hands to Lital’s chest to hear their mother’s heartbeat,” said Beilinson Hospital’s Director of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery Prof. Dan Aravot who performed the heart transplant and has been overseeing Valenci’s recovery. Around 70 percent of all organ transplants in Israel take place at Beilinson.
“We often talk about the physical recovery after a transplant but there is an emotional component that comes with it, and it was very important to Lital to meet the Dee family and share her condolences with them and how appreciative she is to have the gift of life and watch her children grow up because of Lucy Dee,” Prof. Aravot said.
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