JERUSALEM (JTA) – The Palestinians’ chief peace negotiator, Saeb Erekat, is on waiting lists for a lung transplant in the United States and Israel.
Erekat, 62, who also is secretary-general of the PLO executive committee, has pulmonary fibrosis, a serious lung disease, Ynet reported.
The news website later reported, citing officials at Israel’s Ministry of Health and the National Transplant Center, that only Israeli citizens may register to appear on the national waiting list. The priority order on the list is determined solely according to medical criteria, without exceptions – transplants go to the patient in most dire medical need.
In cases where no Israeli patient is found suitable to receive the organ in question, it may be transplanted in someone who is not a citizen of Israel, subject to agreement from the donor’s family. Such cases are rare, according to Ynet.
Erekat would come in at the bottom of the list as a non-citizen, according to the report.
The transplant waiting list reportedly has 70 patients waiting for an organ, according to Ynet. Israel performs 50 lung transplants each year.
Erekat was diagnosed more than a year ago with the disease, in which scar tissue forms in the lungs and makes it impossible for them to function properly. He has been treated in an Israeli hospital, Ynet reported. His condition has worsened dramatically in recent months, leading his Israeli doctors to tell him that he needs a lung transplant to survive.
Palestinian intelligence chief Majid Faraj has been named Erekat’s temporary replacement.