Israeli expert warns West
about dangers of radiation
by Kevin Freeman
NEW YORK (JTA)—An Israeli
expert in tissue typing and bone
marrow transplants has warned
that the West could suffer the same
problems in treating victims of
radiation exposure as did the Soviet
Union in the aftermath of last
April’s Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
The Israeli, Dr. Yair Reisner,
urged taking measures that would
avoid some of the problems that he
encountered when treating pa
tients in Moscow last May. He
urged advanced tissue typing of
persons who work in facilities or
situations where the danger of
radiation exposure exists.
While the West has much more
experience in the field of tissue typ
ing and bone marrow transplants,
Reisner warned, “God forbid, if
something happened, you’ll have
the same problems, the same tacti
cal problems in finding donors as
the Russians had.”
Reisner’s remarks were made to
reporters at a news conference at
the Harvard Club sponsored by
the American Committee of the
Weizmann Institute of Science, the
main fund-raising arm of the insti
tute based in Rehovot, Israel.
Reisner, born in 1948, was one
of a team of four experts—three
from the United States—who went
to the Soviet Union to treat victims
of the Chernobyl nuclear accident.
He reported that he entered the
U.S.S.R. with his Israeli passport
without a Soviet visa. He said he
was met at Moscow airport by
Ministry of Health officials who
issued him a visa on the spot, well
aware that he is an Israeli.
Reisner said the Soviets reported
that of the 299 persons directly
affected by the accident—techni
cians, firefighters and guards who
were inside the building—35 were
severely ill with radiation poisoning.
He said bone marrow tranplants
were performed on only 19 persons
and another six victims were beyond
treatment.'He said 30 of the 35 ill
with radiation poisoning died. He
also indicated he had no plans to
return to check on the work per
formed in Moscow Hospital No. 6.
A revolutionary method of bone
marrow purification that Reisner
helped develop reduces the chance
of rejection of the marrow trans
planted from a donor. The cell
separation technique significantly
increases the success of marrow
tranplants in children suffering
from leukemia or genetic defects
that deprive them of immune de
The end of an ordeal
TEL AVIV (JTA)—Meir Zoreah,
age three, returned home to Israel
last week fully recovered from a
liver transplant operation per
formed at a hospital in Pittsburgh,
Pa., nearly a year ago. It was a long
and terrible ordeal for the child
and his parents, Mr. and Mrs.
Yitzhak Zoreah of Migdal Ha-
Emek, who thought their son would
Liver transplants were not per
formed in Israel when Meir became
ill. His journey to the U.S. was
made possible by public contribu
tions. They poured in after Michael
Zoreah appeared on television to
tell the country his son was “dying
before our eyes” for lack of funds
to send him abroad.
The youngster, accompanied by
his father and a physician, left for
the U.S. last year in a plane e-
quipped as an intensive care unit.
During the flight he developed
complications and was bleeding
internally. On the advice of the
doctor, the plane landed in Lon
don where Meir was hospitalized
for several weeks.
When he finally arrived in Pitts
burgh, the donor whose liver was
to be transplanted was no longer
available. Surgery was postponed
for several weeks. When finally
performed, the operation lasted
seven hours. While Meir was re
covering, his father and mother
took turns being with him. They
were helped by the Pittsburgh Jew
ish community and by friends in
Israel who looked after their three
Father and son returned to Israel.
Meir was hugged by his mother at
the airport. “He is a new boy,” she
explained. “At last we are all to
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PAGE 3 THE SOUTHERN ISRAELITE August 1, 1986