Petach Tikvah, Israel – Following the tragic death of brothers Yagel and Hillel Yaniv last week, their parents decided to donate the corneas of their children so that their children could do one final act of charity after their passing. Four cornea transplants were performed at Beilinson Hospital, one of Israel’s largest medical centers, which specializes in transplants, successfully restoring the eyesight of four patients.
"Corneal transplantation is a medical operation that brings together a world of bereavement and loss on the one hand, and the excitement and joy of the recipients with restoring vision on the other. This is one of the moments that instills in all of us a sense of unity, kindness, and unconditional giving. The righteous decision of the family at the precise moment of their tragedy is extremely moving,” said Beilinson’s Director of the Ophthalmology Department Prof. Irit Behar.
“Each of the recipients has been waiting for a cornea transplant for over a year. Thanks to the Yaniv family, their eyesight has been restored and their son’s legacy continues to live on through the lives they have impacted,” she added.
"When I called Tami Fink, the transplant coordinator at the hospital, she was already waiting for the family. It is so difficult to appeal to a family to request organ donation from parents who have lost their child, and even more complex to do so when it comes to the loss of two children. This is a rare and extremely difficult situation,” said National Transplant Center Director Dr. Tamar Ashkenazi.
"I'm so emotional. This was beyond my expectations. What a strong family; I am so looking forward to meeting them – just to hug them," said Ziona Salzberg from Migdal Haemek (68) who was one of the donor recipients.
"When this terrible incident happened, I looked at the TV and saw their beautiful, big blue eyes. I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would be able to see once again thanks to these young men. I am so appreciative to them and their family’s noble deed,” shared Ron Carmeli (66) who was a donor recipient.
"We were excited this morning to hear about Hillel and Yagel's cornea transplants. We wish the recipients a quick recovery and that they are able to see the goodness and joy in the world, as our sweet Hillel and Yagel saw it,” Masati and Shalom Yaniv, Hillel and Yagel’s parents, shared in a statement. “Hillel and Yagel’s beautiful eyes will continue to illuminate our world through dear messengers, and we are filled with gratitude that even after their deaths they have been privileged to help others.”