Choosing Life

The conference, initiated by Pnina Bouchnik, Ziv's Organ Transplant Coordinator and Dr. Levana Ogni, Director of Ziv's Nursing School, was attended by 200 medical professionals and nursing students from Northern Israel.
Ziv's Director, Dr. Salman Zarka, Mr. Arie Bitan, Nursing Director and Pnina Bouchnik gave the opening remarks at the conference, emphasizing the need and importance of organ transplants. They called upon the staff and students who work in the medical field to set an example to the rest of the staff and to the wider community.

During the conference, lectures were given, highlighting the different aspects of organ donation and transplants. Dr. Osama Hussein, Head of Internal Medicine A at Ziv, explained the term "brain death" which refers to the complete and irreversible loss of brain function, the process of establishing brain death, the examinations which are required by law, the procedures required by the Ministry of Health and the Druze religious view of this topic. Patients classified as brain-dead can have their organs surgically removed for organ donation.

Dr. Evgeni Solomonov, Head of Ziv's Surgical Department and an expert in liver transplants presented additional clinical aspects related to organ transplant as well as the laparoscopic removal of a kidney from a live donor. Dr. Yossi Pikel, Head of the Ophthalmology Department at Ziv, spoke about cornea transplants raising his department's plans for cornea transplants in the near future.

Dr. Levana Ogni, Director of Ziv's Nursing School presented the subject of nursing involvement in the process of organ donation as reflected in different religions and cultures based on research done in the years 2011-12

The data presented at the conference indicate that despite the fact that organ transplant has proven to be successful, there is an ongoing lack of organs for transplants which makes it impossible to cater to the need for such transplants. In 2014, there were 1,117 people waiting for transplants, but only 394 transplants performed, leaving a long list of people who will not receive this life saving opportunity. The lack of organs for donations is a universal problem. Data from WHO in 2013 has shown that Israel is low on the list of countries with donor response.

The main reasons for the low donor response are lack of public awareness, cultural and religious conceptions and the difficulties in identifying potential donors.
Touching personal stories were told by two patients waiting for kidney transplants, a family who donated their daughter's organs following her death and a liver recipient who gained a new life following the transplant.

Dr. Ogni said "the personal stories which were presented are living evidence of the enormous importance of organ donations. Alongside the difficulties and dilemmas faced – on the one hand families who are mourning their very recently deceased loved one and on the other, there is a person fighting for his/her life. The one is dependent on the other. Words cannot describe these two extremes, the great chasm between loss and sorrow on the one hand and the great hope for life on the other."

In the picture (l to r), holding Adi Donor Transplant Cards: Dr. Salman Zarka, Mr. Arie Bitan, Dr. Levana Ogni, Dr. Evgeni Solomonov, Ms. Esti Katz (transplant coordinator at Rambam Medical Center) and Dr. Calin Shapira (Deputy Director, Ziv Medical Center).