Refugee arrives in Edmonton hoping to save sister's life

Laila Maaen came to Canada on Thursday to start a new life. And to give her sister a kidney.

'Now I will get a new life,' says Janet Machtoub, 'thanks to my sister'

Laila Maaen, left, and her sister, Janet Machtoub, were reunited Thursday at Edmonton International Airport. (CBC)

The two sisters could not stop hugging each other.

Their tearful airport reunion represents a new start for both of them.

It rescued one from a refugee camp in Lebanon and will, they hope, restore the other's health.

Laila Maaen came to Canada on Thursday to give her sister a kidney and a chance at a better life.

"It's a gift from god on my New Year," Janet Machtoub said after her sister stepped off a flight at Edmonton International Airport. "And she is a gift for me."

The family is originally from Lebanon. Machtoub, 35, has lived in Edmonton since 1999 and has been sick for much of the last decade.

Her kidneys are failing and she spends nine hours each night, from midnight to 9 a.m., hooked up to a home dialysis machine. She has already had one failed transplant.

Maaen and several family members were living in Syria when the civil war broke out there. They escaped and spent the past two-and-a-half years in a refugee camp.

When the sisters met up in Lebanon a few months ago, medical tests confirmed that Maaen would make a perfect donor for her sister.

At that point, Edmonton's Mennonite Central Committee got involved. They helped with the paperwork and fast-tracked the visa applications. They rented an apartment and filled it with furniture.

Maaen, 45, will eventually be joined by four other family members from Lebanon.

In January, the sisters will have more medical tests.

They hope the organ transplant can be done by March.

"Now I will get a new life," Machtoub said. "Thanks to my sister."


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