Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Belarus, of all the places

He was in a critical condition; he urgently needed a liver transplant. He appealed , using his best connections, to hospitals in USA, Germany, India, but no luck. The first two required a long wait for a liver, and the third one , so they say, refused to perform surgery on him because of the nature of his former job .  Those in his homeland, Israel, refused to even put him on the waiting list as he didn't qualify for their age criterion (age up to 65).  

In the end, Mr. Meir Dagan, 67, former head of the israeli Secret Service ,the Mossad, was  admitted to an hospital in Belarus (October 2012) where he successfully underwent a liver transplant.

Meir Dagan after transplant

The Republic of Belarus, with its capital city Minsk, is a landlocked country bordered by five countries:  Russia (in the north and east), Ukraine (south), Poland(west), Lithuania and Latvia (north).

Belarus,  considered by many analysts "Europe's last dictatorship" has a relatively decent health  system , but is certainly not among the world's leading providers of health care.

President of  Belarus, Mr. Alexander Lukashenko has used this liver transplant case to make quite a publicity to himself, and to his country's surgeons, humanity, hospitality. Well, why not?

I've learnt two things from this dramatic story:

1.   No matter how important you once were for your country, you might nevertheless find out one day, while  facing death, that she considers you a regular citizen  and will  only  'play by the book'.

2.  Never underestimate a small, modest, country in East Europe. Belarus, of all the countries in the world  "did it"and did it well.

(* above photos - taken from the Web.)


  1. Interesting...sometimes, it seems, we become old and expendable. Sixty-seven isn't very old, and I'm glad he was able to find a country, that felt there was still some value to his life.

  2. Hi Bica,

    I read somewhere that even his opponents were glad he was given the chance to live. When it comes to matters of life and death, people soften and put themselves into his shoes.

  3. With all the amazing medical treatments that are now available throughout the world, I find it unacceptable that anyone should be denied treatment. I have learned from doctors here in the USA that our Medicare insurance will not allow certain types of procedures for people who are 65 or older. It seems that they think we all have a one size fits all shelf life. I am glad that Meir Dagan was able to have a successful transplant and wish him well.

  4. Sadly the procedure depends on the availability of a donor's liver. I think,however, that the emphasis should be on the gravity of the patient's situation, not on his age.

  5. I was to Belarus a few years ago and I was surprised to see that the country did not look that bad as they show it in TV all the time...
    Blog about life and travelling
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  6. Yes, Ola, it's nice when we get pleasantly surprised, as it happened to you in Belarus. Hope, someday to visit this place myself.

  7. I love your beautiful blog I really liked your article as it is very interesting to read thank you.

  8. I am glad that Mr. Dagan was able to find the treatment he sought. I wonder, if he had been less of a public figure, would the decision have been the same...

    Thanks for the comment on "Close Call." The smaller vehicle is mine, and the owner of the larger somehow managed to not touch my car at all! I took pictures in case I needed proof in an accident claim, but there was no need to file one. The space between them was only about 1/4 inch (I think that's about 6 mm)!

  9. I's hard to know.
    All I know is that during the year of his retirement in 2011, Dagan was very critical of the PM'intention to attack Iran's nuclear plant, and that probably didn't help him much with his personal health issue.

    Thank you, Dimple, for the nice explanation on your picture 'Close Call".

  10. We're glad things turned out okay for the gentleman in question. Here's hoping for a speedy recovery!

  11. Thanks for stopping by.

    Yes, we're glad a human life has been saved. They say (in the press) he's doing quite well now.

  12. Amazing, I never heard of Belarus,
    I will always think of it as a Kind country. Congratulations to Meir Dagan, he is not old. Glad the transplant was a success. Can't imagine someone as important as he
    is having to leave his own country.
    Good story Duta.

  13. Thank you ,Yvonne, for your kind comment.
    People sometimes confuse Belarus with Ukraine as the two are neighboring countries.
    If it makes you curious, you could google it and find more about this country.

  14. I have known of said country and love the pronouncement of the name. However, that is about all I know about it. I agree with you that the health of the person not his politics, job or money or fame should come in question when it comes to health issues. Our government has started what some call "Death Panels" and they decide not the doctor as to who gets treatment or not. Of course most of the them do not wish to refer to them as a DP but needless to say that is what they are and it is so sad our great country has come to this. Of course if you have money or fame here, well you can get whatever you wish. A son of a teacher here had some politican pull and got a liver asap. Jumped to the head of the so called line. Then there are certain actors who have had not one but two liver transplants. Seems an unequal process. Peace


  15. Thanks for your detailed comment.
    I agree with you that it's sad how money, fame, connections can get one whatever one wishes even in matters of life and death, such as liver transplant.

  16. Definitely makes you stop and think. Sometimes no matter how important or powerful you were you may still end up in the same boat as someone who was normal, an everyday working person and not powerful at all. Medical problems level the playing field quite a bit.

  17. I see it this way too, Alicia.
    Last year, the main owner of one of the biggest pharmaceutical concerns (TEVA),died after being negligently treated in the hospital that had him on its list of friends and donors.

  18. Missed this post!
    I think it's wonderful that this Belarus gave him a 2nd chance at life!
    Great post, Duta.

  19. If I get sick I wish I would be there. Happy Valentines Day Duta, big hug to you. yvonne