The tragic death of a young South African tourist has been turned into something positive due to the young woman’s status as an organ donor.
Lydia Labuschagne, 30, traveled to Israel last month as part of a 10-day tour. Just three days into the trip, however, the young woman suffered a severe allergic reaction after unknowingly eating some food seasoned in part with sesame, which she was allergic to, reports the Christian Broadcast Network.
Although Labuschagne was quickly rushed to the intensive care unit at Jerusalem’s Sha’are Zedek Medical Center, doctors were unable to save the tourist’s life. As Labuschagne’s family flew in from South Africa, the young woman slipped away.
But the story doesn’t end there. Labuschagne, a Christian school teacher originally from Pretoria, was also an organ donor, and her family knew she would have wanted to donate her organs, despite being so far from home. Indeed, on a Facebook page set up to support Labuschagne while she was in the hospital, friends and family celebrated their friend’s generosity of spirit.
“Giving in her life and in her passing. what a blessing!” one said.
Altogether, doctors were able to save the lives of five Israeli patients because of Labuschagne. One of the patients saved was Miri Avrahami, a 33-year-old mother of three young children, desperately in need of a new liver.
Prof. Eytan Mor, who heads the Rabin Medical Center’s Department of Organ Transplantation, said Avrahami was perhaps hours from death when she received Labuschagne’s life-saving donation.
“There would have been nothing left for us to do,” Mor said, according to the Times of Israel. “She wouldn’t have survived.”
In a moving moment, Avrahami and her husband were able to thank Labuschagne’s brother over the phone following the successful surgery.
“My sister would have really wanted this to happen,” Labuschagne’s brother Nick told them. “My sister, basically, she lived like an angel, and she would want to do what Jesus did — that is, to help people and to save lives.”
“Thanks [to] your sister, I’m alive,” Avrahami replied. “It’s a miracle.”
“We love you,” Avrahami’s husband said, sitting beside his wife.
Others helped by Labuschagne included a 40-year-old man with cystic fibrosis, who received her lungs, and a man and woman who both received corneas to alleviate a disease that causes blindness, according to the Christian Broadcasting Network.
Organ donating in Israel has long struggled to achieve critical mass due to taboos and worries by some that it could violate a Jewish law. Currently, only about 14 percent of Israelis carry an organ donation card, as opposed to 45 percent of Americans, reports Haaretz.