Monday, August 8, 2022

Renewal: "My donor wanted to give me her kidney — and get home in time for Shabbat"

 When reporter Stewart Ain needed a kidney transplant, he contacted Renewal. He explains the process that led to him being matched to an altruistic donor and transplanted.

My donor wanted to give me her kidney — and get home in time for Shabbat  By Stewart Ain

"Two months later, my wife Meryl and I were sitting in Renewal’s office speaking with Rabbi Josh Sturm, Renewal’s director of outreach, and Miriam Lefkowitz, Renewal’s kidney coordinator. We were told to reach out to friends, relatives, neighbors — everyone we knew — and ask them to listen to an online presentation the rabbi would make about what kidney donation entails and how it literally gives the recipient a new life. 

"As we walked out the door, the rabbi said they had found that if at least 200 people listened to the presentation, the odds were very good a donor would be found. And the donor would not necessarily be someone actually listening online but often from the advance publicity the presentation would generate.

"Renewal created a flier for us with information about the upcoming presentation. At my request, several synagogues posted it on their websites, a couple of Jewish weekly newspapers ran it each week, and Hadassah Magazine featured my story in an article about kidney transplants. One of the three synagogues we belong to contacted the NBC station in West Palm Beach, Florida. The station’s reporter interviewed both me and one the synagogue’s rabbis. A story about my need for a kidney was on the evening newscasts.

"The presentation took place during the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur last fall. More than 250 computers tuned in. In the following days I learned that several people had asked Renewal for the nasal-swab kit needed to see if they were a match for me. Later, I heard from several friends and relatives that they had been disqualified as donors for various reasons. "

His donor may not have been one of those who had heard the presentation about his case.

"The idea of donating one of her kidneys surfaced again last Hanukkah when someone mentioned that their daughter had just donated a kidney through Renewal. She contacted the organization in November, and three days later received a swab kit. On Jan. 17, a rabbi from Renewal called and asked if she was still interested in donating. When she said yes, she was told she was a match for two people.

“I remember saying, `I’m not going to play God, let whoever is a better match have it,” she said."

Both patient and donor are doing well.

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