Mother of eight offers lifeline to infant in need through liver donation

Once she found out she meets all requirements, Bat-Chen Sarig had no hesitation and volunteered to help save the child's life; 'The baby's parents came to visit me and told me he was my son now too'

Tia Barak|
This is the story of 35-year-old Bat-Chen Sarig, married and mother of eight and the owner of a fashion boutique and a jewelry studio from the West Bank outpost of Givat-Tkuma:
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"Last February, on a Saturday night, I logged on to Facebook and ran into a post about asking for a liver lobe donation for a six-month-old infant. I shared it both on Facebook and a Whatsapp group I'm a member of since my husband once donated a kidney.
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בת חן שריג
בת חן שריג
Bat-Chen Sarig
(Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
I knew they'd shared it further since it's a subject close to their heart. I was shocked when many people responded by saying they wish they'd be able to donate again, but could not.
That evening, the head of the transplant and liver operations ward at Schneider Children's Medical Center, Dr. Michael Gurevitch, was added to that Whatsapp group and he spoke further of the parameters required for those who wish to donate.
He said it's preferable to have a woman who weighs approximately 120 lbs. with O-type blood. It occurred to me that I fit the bill. I showed it to my husband as well.
He was onboard, and so were my kids, who wished me luck. The firstborn thought I was crazy, but that's nothing new.
I sent Dr. Gurevitch a message and he called around midnight, asked a few questions and liked what he heard. At the tail end of the conversation, he said the baby who needs the transplant isn't doing well and that the process can wait no longer. I didn't imagine that just days later I'd be headed to the OR.
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משפחת שריג
משפחת שריג
The whole family
(Photo: Private album)
On Sunday morning I got a call from the Rabin Medical Center telling me to come in for tests. I ran by my store first since a month before Passover is quite busy. I hastily put up a sign saying I'd be gone a while and ran to the hospital.
I was greeted by the doctor and transplant coordinator. They laid it all out for me. It was a six-hour operation where my stomach is basically being pried open and my gallbladder is removed, followed by removing a certain part of my liver. A fifth, in my case, would grow back. They even promised a nice scar.
Everything had to be done quickly, all in one day. No delays allowed. The last stop before the operation itself was a psych evaluation.
It happened on the same day brothers Hillel and Yagel Yaniv were murdered in Huwara. I went by there on my way for the operation. Rocks were thrown at me. The place was on fire.
That night, I was notified that Dr. Tamar Ashkenazi, head transplant coordinator, wanted me to go through a second psych evaluation. We did it on Zoom, after which she told me I'm good to go.
I was hospitalized Wednesday night in preparation. My husband stayed the night with me. I slept well and was woken up at 5:30 in the morning, and when they wheeled me into the OR, I got excited. I asked the staff to take a pic of the liver part they're removing, so they did.
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בת חן וישי שריג
בת חן וישי שריג
Couple's photo
(Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
Post-op, I spent the first 24 hours in the ICU. After it was over, my husband called our parents to let them know we did it. We didn't want them to worry.
The baby's parents came to visit me and told me he was my son now too. I told them I'd settle for being an aunt. When I was able to walk again, I went to see him. The staff told me the operation went about as well as could be expected.
I asked to be released early since I'd recuperate better at home with my family than in the hospital. My husband came to pick me up with six of our children. I missed them dearly.
Ever since I've regained about 90% of my strength. I'm in touch with the baby's parents, who is still hospitalized. His mom showed me a video of him playing and smiling. We'll have a huge meal at our place as soon as he's discharged.
Initially, I didn't want to advertise my donation, but I realized it would raise awareness for the importance of organ donations. In these days of our political opinions driving us apart, it's important to look beyond our skin color or political affiliation. We're all brothers."
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