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

The husband of a Syrian refugee who died following a crossing to Sicily earlier this week has donated his wife's organs to Italy. The woman's organs have now been used to help save the lives of three Italians.

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)

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