Six Israelis receive organs of Jenin boy shot in error by IDF

8 Nov 2005 | Haaretz

by Amos Harel and Arnon Regular

The vital organs of a Palestinian boy mistakenly killed by the Israel Defense Forces last week have been transplanted into the bodies of six Israelis, after the boy’s family donated his organs “for the sake of peace between peoples,” Israel Radio reported.

Ahmed al-Khatib, 12, was fatally shot during clashes in Jenin last week, when IDF troops mistook the toy gun he carried for a real rifle.

Three Israeli girls, two Jewish and one Druze, underwent surgery Sunday to receive Al-Khatib’s lungs, heart and liver. Twelve-year-old Samah Gadban had been waiting for a heart for five years when doctors called her family late Saturday and told them of the Al-Khatib donation. By Sunday afternoon, the Druze girl had a new heart and was recovering at Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikvah.

“This morning, I did not know anything about the boy. I only knew that the doctors said they had a heart,” said Samah’s father, Riad. “I don’t know what to say. It is such a gesture of love … I would like for [the family] to think that my daughter is their daughter.”

Jamal al-Khatib said he hoped to meet the recipients of his son’s organs to ensure that they were healthy, and added: “The most important thing is that I see the person who received the organs, to see him alive.”

The boy’s liver was divided in two and given to a 6-month-old baby and a 56-year-old woman; his kidneys were given to a 5-year-old boy; and his lungs were given to a 5-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl, the radio said.

Dr. Tzvi Ben-Yishai, spokesman for Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, where Al-Khatib had been treated, said the boy’s parents decided to donate his organs “to bring hearts closer and bring peace closer.”

“I don’t mind seeing the organs in an Israeli or a Palestinian. In our religion, God allows us to give organs to another person and it doesn’t matter who the person is,” said Jamal al-Khatib, the boy’s father, who added that he hoped the donations would send a message of peace to Israelis and Palestinians.

“I had an older brother who suffered from kidney failure,” he told Channel 2, “and there were no transplants available. When the doctor told me that my boy was clinically dead, I remembered my brother.”

The incident involving Ahmed occurred when soldiers entered Jenin Thursday as part of an ongoing operation to arrest Islamic Jihad operatives. Shots were fired at the soldiers and teenagers threw rocks at their Jeeps.

The soldiers thought they saw an armed man some 130 meters away, and one of them fired, hitting the suspect in the head. When the soldiers approached, they found Ahmed laying critically injured – with a toy gun. The IDF subsequently circulated photos of the gun to show how realistic it looked.

He was taken to the hospital in Ramallah, but later transferred to Haifa. He died late Saturday and his parents quickly agreed to donate his organs.

Palestinian sources said Al-Khatib was apparently not one of the boys who had been throwing rocks at the soldiers.

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