Syrian refugee lands in Canada, where she plans to give sister a kidney

A Syrian refugee who plans to donate a kidney to her ailing Edmonton sister landed in Canada Thursday, months earlier than expected.

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Layla Machtoub and her four children’s applications for refugee status were fast-tracked in the fall after a local charity informed federal officials that her kidney is a match for her sick sister Janet Machtoub, who has had a failing kidney for 15 years.

Although Janet Machtoub received a kidney transplant from a stranger in 2002, her body eventually rejected the stranger’s organ, leaving her feeling ill and forcing her to endure dialysis for the past nine years. Testing in Lebanon suggested her sister Layla is a match.

“I'm so happy that she's here and with her kids,” Janet Machtoub said Thursday after greeting the family at the Edmonton airport. “Finally, I have somebody from my family.”

Layla Machtoub left Syria in 2013 out of fear her sons would be drafted into the Syrian army. The family then lived in a refugee camp in Lebanon. The children’s father is deceased.

Janet Machtoub thanked the Mennonite Central Committee Thursday for their assistance with the paperwork and fundraising for the private refugee sponsorship. The group has also helped find an apartment for the new Canadians.

In early October, the Conservative government has promised to reduce the wait-time to get the Machtoubs to Canada, from an estimated one year to six months, but in the end it happened much quicker.

The Liberal government elected in October vowed to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by New Year’s, later revising the timeline.

As of Thursday, more than 6,000 Syrian refugees have landed in the country, and the rest of the 25,000 are expected to be here by March.

With a report from CTV Edmonton


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