• Italy edition
 
Syrian refugee donates wife’s organs to Italy
Thousands of asylum-seekers have landed in Sicily in recent weeks. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Syrian refugee donates wife’s organs to Italy

Published: 04 Sep 2013 12:08 GMT+02:00

The 49-year-old woman was saved along with her husband and two teenage sons by the Italian coastguard off the coast of Siracusa in Sicily on August 28th.

The family had reportedly fled from Damascus and were planning to travel to Sweden from Italy. 

The woman was transferred to the Umberto I in Siracusa but doctors were unable to save her. Her husband then gave his consent for the woman’s organs to be donated to Italy. 

Thanks to his decision, three life-saving operations have now been carried out: one liver transplant on a 66-year-old Sicilian man, one kidney transplant on a 60-year-old Calabrian woman and another kidney transplant on a 41-year-old man also from Sicily. 

'Touching experience'

“It was a very touching experience that shows what real solidarity is,” Maurillo Carpinteri, a doctor who treated the woman told La Repubblica, “The father and two teenage boys overcame all mistrust and trusted completely. In a moment of great desperation they gave all that they had with a dignity that is truly exemplary.”

Health minister Beatrice Lorenzin offered her “profound thanks” to the family, describing the incident as “an example of how even in dramatic situations of great need, when refugees arrive on our coasts, there are people who manage to make loving gestures towards their neighbour that silently benefit from others.”

According to the paper, the woman worked as a nurse in Syria and her husband was a businessman. The family said they intended to travel to Sweden where the woman’s eldest son works.

The woman’s body will now be buried in Malta where her mother and two brothers live.

This family story is just one of the many tragedies which have dominated Italian headlines in the past month.

On Monday AFP reported that a 52-year-old Palestinian woman who was a resident in Syria died while crossing to Italy with her two sons and her husband, who suffered a leg injury.

Last week, a Syrian refugee was even forced to give birth at sea on her way to Italy.

AFP reports that thousands of migrants arriving on Italian shores in the past few weeks are Syrian and Egyptian refugees, many of them children and some as young as three.

On Monday Italy's Prime Minister Enrico Letta warned that the European Union lacks an adequate approach for the refugee problem that will worsen in the case of an international intervention in Syria.  

Sophie Inge (sophie.inge@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
ArcelorMittal bids for scandal-hit steel plant
Ilva factory workers protest outside the plant in 2012. Photo: Donato Fasano/AFP

ArcelorMittal bids for scandal-hit steel plant

ArcelorMittal has teamed up with Italy's Marcegaglia to bid for Ilva, a loss-making Italian steel plant at the centre of a major environmental scandal, the target company confirmed on Wednesday. READ  

Tony Blair applauds Renzi's 'bravery'
Tony Blair said Matteo Renzi has "the courage to change things". Photos: Chatham House (L) and Olivier Morin/AFP (R)

Tony Blair applauds Renzi's 'bravery'

Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has received a ringing endorsement from Britain’s former leader, Tony Blair. READ  

Over 2,000 queue in Matera for Ben Hur roles
Parts of the remake of Ben Hur will be filmed in the Basilicata city of Matera. Photo: Matera: Shutterstock

Over 2,000 queue in Matera for Ben Hur roles

Over two thousand people queued at a shopping centre in the Italian city of Matera on Wednesday morning to audition for roles in the remake of the epic Ben Hur. READ  

Bad weather and pests ruin Italy's olive harvest
Olive oil trees in Puglia's Salento region have been hit by bacteria. Olive tree Salento: Shutterstock

Bad weather and pests ruin Italy's olive harvest

Bad weather and pests have devastated much of Italy's olive harvest this year, meaning the much sought-after oil is only going to get pricier. But Pamela Sheldon Johns, an olive oil producer, says there is some room for optimism. READ  

Calabria risks EU cash loss for failing to spend
Italy’s poor Calabria region was set to be one of the key beneficiaries of EU funds between 2007 and 2013. Calabria photo: Shutterstock

Calabria risks EU cash loss for failing to spend

Calabria has a “chronic problem” of failing to spend EU funds, a European Commission source told The Local on Wednesday, as the Italian region faces a deadline to spend €1 billion from Brussels. READ  

The Local List
Ten tips for men's winter fashion in Italy
Don't go anywhere without a scarf this winter. Men's fashion photo: Shutterstock

Ten tips for men's winter fashion in Italy

As the winter weather draws in, The Local speaks to fashion blogger Christian Muraglia about how men can make the most of the changing season. Check out his ten tips. READ  

Cancer survival rates climb in Italy
Cancer survival rates in Italy improved between 1995 and 2009. Photo: Photo of cancer patient: Shutterstock

Cancer survival rates climb in Italy

Italy saw a strong rise in five-year cancer survival rates from 1995 to 2009, but poorer countries are missing out on the benefits of improved treatment methods, a major new global study shows. READ  

Capello 'shameful' over Russia unpaid salary row
Russia's coach Fabio Capello has not been paid for five months. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP

Capello 'shameful' over Russia unpaid salary row

The former deputy to Russian coach Fabio Capello has slammed the Italian for failing to defend his staff who left when they were not paid. READ  

First Italian with Ebola takes trial drug
The doctor was flown into the military airport of Pratica di Mare, outside Rome. Photo: Italian Airforce/AFP

First Italian with Ebola takes trial drug

UPDATED: An Italian doctor battling the deadly Ebola virus on Tuesday began treatment with an experimental drug in Italy's leading hospital for infectious diseases. READ  

Italy's looted treasures found in lawyer's home
The stolen artefacts were found in the home of a lawyer near Rome. Photo: Italy 2

Italy's looted treasures found in lawyer's home

Italian police have found a vast collection of the country's stolen historical gems in the home of a lawyer near Rome. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Russian craft takes Italian astronaut to space
National
Russian fined €20,000 for defacing Colosseum
National
Mafia use tigers and parrots to wield power
National
Top ten: Italy's weirdest place names
National
Mafia 'cashes in' on Sicily's migrant influx
National
Dozens of foreigners vie for €1 homes in Sicily
Sponsored Article
Ever wanted to try out home exchange?
International
Italy: Crimean Russians won't get visas from us
National
Wild bears spark fear in Italy's north
National
Italy's immigration crisis moves to the streets
Society
Italy under pressure over Roma camps squalor
International
VIDEO: Greenpeace activist injured in Canary Islands oil clash
Vatican
Topless feminists target 'political' Pope
Education
Italy's 'rigid' education system stifles job market
Education
Italians speak better English than the French
Education
How Turin is defying Italian austerity
Travel
Top ten: great late autumn escapes in Italy
National
Quake experts cleared in 'science on trial' case
Culture
10 things you should never say to an Italian
Travel
Italy tops world favourite destination list
Gallery
Top 10: The best Italian proverbs
Opinion
Why foreigners in Italy are happier than Italians
Opinion
'Forget the baby bonus, we need investment'
National
UN fears for migrants as Italy ends rescue mission
Politics
Quiz: How well do you know Italian politics?
Culture
Ten Rome baristas who brighten your day
Business & Money
Italy bows to EU pressure over budget
Travel
Ten of the best students bars in Rome
National
'Italy is the real sick man of Europe'
Society
Semi-clad tourists dance in priceless fountain
National
Singing nun picks Like a Virgin for debut album
National
Where's the best place to live in Italy?
National
Amorous Italian couple get stuck in frolic at sea
Culture
Test your Italian history with The Local's quiz
Travel
Top ten: Travel warnings for Italy
International
Revealed: The cost of home comforts in Italy
Health
Nurse 'killed 38 patients for being annoying'
Culture
Breaking Balsamic: See US writer's potent parody
Opinion
Is Italy a desirable place for foreigners to work?
Culture
Top ten: Things Italian mothers say
Society
Mayors vow to defy gay marriage registration ban
Travel
How well do you know Italy's geography?
National
Ten Italian 'false friends' you need to watch out for
International
Italian student tipped to win British X-Factor
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

509
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply