Petach Tikvah, Israel – Three Israelis who received transplanted corneas from two young men killed in a terrorist shooting in Huwara in February were reunited with the family of Yagel (19) and Hillel (21) Yaniv at Beilinson Hospital today.
Esti and Shalom looked into their son’s eyes again one more time as they met with Ziona Zalzberg, Ron Carmeli and Itzhak Buskila. The recipients expressed their condolences to the family on the loss of their sons and shared their appreciation to Yagel and Hillel for giving them the gift of sight. Estie spoke about her sons and how proud her family are that even after Yagel and Hillel passed, they continued to help others. This is the first time that the Yaniv family met with the recipients.
The transplant operations were done at Beilinson, one of Israel’s largest medical centers and conducts 70-percent of organ transplants in Israel.
Ziona Zalzberg is a 68-year-old woman from Migdal Haemek. She loves traveling, but ever since her vision was damaged, she wasn’t able to travel on her own and felt she was a burden on her family asking them to help her with everyday tasks. With her new cornea, she will be able to do these tasks on her own going forward.
Ron Carmeli is a 66-year-old man from Petach Tikva. He dreamed of being able to see his granddaughter and to be able to hold her and do regular grandparent activities with her, which he can now do.
Itzhak Buskila is a 42-year-old husband and father of three children from Tirat HaCarmel. Before the transplant, he had terrible vision in both of his eyes that made it very hard for him to work in warehouse logistics at a major food distributor. With his new cornea, he can continue providing for his family doing a job he enjoys.
“I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the light that you have lit in my eyes, I thank you for your noble soul and decision to do something so brave that will forever impact my life,” said Ziona Zalzberg. “I will never forget the gift you gave me.”
“We wish for the recipients that they should see the world from the perspective of good and happiness the way sweet Yagel and Hillel saw it,” said Shalom Yaniv. “Their big beautiful eyes will continue to light up our world through these four recipients. It gives us hope that even after their passing, they continue to help others.”
“It was incredibly emotional being in the room as the Yaniv family met Ziona, Ron and Itzhak who each expressed their gratitude to the family and to Yagel and Hillel who they never met but who they feel indebted to for giving them the gift of sight,” said Beilinson Hospital’s Chief of Ophthalmology Dr. Irit Bahar who along with her colleague Prof. Eytan Livny performed the cornea transplants and has been overseeing the recipient’s recovery.
“The transplant journey is often discussed in the context of the physical recovery process but there is also an important emotional element that comes with it and it was important for Ziona, Ron and Itzhak to meet with the Yaniv family and share their gratitude in person,” she added.