JERUSALEM — Inessa Fleurova, the Soviet woman who may be her cancer-stricken Israeli brother's only chance for survival, arrived here Wednesday and was scheduled to begin a series of medical tests today.
"Thank God we're in Israel," the weeping Fleurova, 37, said as she was embraced by her brother, Mikhail Shirman, who suffers from leukemia.
"I'm the happiest woman in all history and the whole world," said Fleurova, an economist, who was accompanied by her husband, Viktor, and their two daughters. "I hope all our will . . . shall overcome this illness."
Shirman's Israeli doctor said he may die in a matter of months without a bone-marrow transplant. The chances that his sister will prove to be a suitable donor are only about one in five--not good, but better than the "one in a million" that another donor with matching marrow could be found from a non-family member, according to the doctor, Alain Berrebi, head of chemotherapy at Kaplan Hospital near Tel Aviv.
Emigrated in 1980
Shirman, who emigrated in 1980, discovered a year ago that he had leukemia. His mother, Yevgenia, has already been tested and found to be unsuitable as a marrow donor, leaving his sister as his best chance.
Fleurova applied for a temporary Soviet exit visa last March, but it was denied. Then she and her husband applied for permission to emigrate, and this application was delayed because of a technicality relating to his father, who would not sign a form waiving his financial claims against his son, as the Soviets required.
Shirman, 31, who is bald as a result of chemotherapy, went to Reykjavik, Iceland, last month to confront Kremlin officials there in connection with the U.S.-Soviet summit meeting.
"They told me in the United States that my appearance at Reykjavik was a breaking point for the Soviets," Shirman told newsmen Wednesday.
Soviet authorities finally dropped their requirement that the father sign the financial waiver, and the family was permitted to leave Moscow on Monday, traveling to Vienna and then on to Tel Aviv.