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Ten More Lives Were Saved

Organ Donation in Israel

Two IDF soldiers saved many Israelis in both their short lifetimes and their deaths. Roi Nahari z”l and Amichai Rubin z”l were killed while fighting in separate locations (Roi in Kfar Aza, Amichai in his army station) after being attacked by brutal Hamas terrorists. Their last actions in life helped save their comrades and evacuate Jewish families. After their deaths were declared in the hospital, their families decided to donate their organs. In both cases, 5 organs were donated. Roi and Amichai saved numerous people in their last hours of life and 10 more after they died.

I had the privilege of paying shiva calls to both families. From the outside, they seem very different. Roi’s family lives in a secular, pastoral neighborhood outside of Jerusalem, while Amichai’s religious-Zionist family founded the garin torani (“Torah seed cluster”) in Acco. Roi’s buddies wore earrings, Amichai’s brothers sported peyot. Yet once I began talking to the families, I quickly heard their shared love for this country alongside their pride, amidst all of the acute pain, that their loved one saved so many people in life and death. The values that unite us are greater than our external differences.

Roi’s family decided to donate after his twin brother, also a soldier, told them that just one month ago, they had told each other that they would want to save others if the worst would happen to them. Amichai’s family decided to donate after hearing from the rabbi at Hadassah Hospital about the incredibly strong rabbinic support for organ donation within the religious Zionist world.

Roi, a paratrooper commander, saved Olga Paikin, a 44-year-old mother of five who suffered from hepatitis, a serious liver disease, for the last 30 years; a 72-year-old man who received Roi’s lungs; and three others. Paikin was quoted as saying, “His family has saved my life, and done so during the darkest days of their lives. There are no adequate words to say how thankful I am to them and Lt. Nahari.”

In the case of Amichai, who served in the Golani Battalion, a 70-year-old individual received a lung transplant at Beilinson Hospital, while a 23-year-old received a liver transplant at Ichilov Hospital. Additionally, an eight-year-old received a liver lobe transplant at Schneider Hospital, a 29-year-old received a kidney transplant at Beilinson Hospital, and a seven-year-old received a kidney transplant at Rambam Hospital. The eight-year-old’s father commented, “My child reveres soldiers. When he hears that his donor was a brave soldier, it will undoubtedly increase his strength.”

A newborn child has already been named after Amichai and two other killed soldiers with the same name, which means “My nation lives.”  

Prof. Yael Peled, the medical director of the Heart Transplant Unit at Sheba Medical Center that transplanted Roi’s heart, remarked, “In these days when we face adversity, Roi, of blessed memory, and his family give us hope. Not only did Roi’s kind heart save the life of our patient, but it also teaches us about the goodness of human beings, generosity, partnership, and love for one another.” 

May the memories of Roi and Amichai be blessed and may their life-saving legacies continue to inspire Israeli and Jews across the world during this difficult war period and beyond.

Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Brody