What would be your rebuttal to people that oppose organ donation?
There are many rabbanim and doctors who support kidney donation. Dr. Greenstein, Kidney Transplant Surgeon, and Professor of Surgery, at Montefiore Medical Center commented, “Just think, people have no problem having only one kidney, so we have to ask, why did Hashem, give us two kidneys? Perhaps it is so you would have an extra one to donate and save a life!”
How do you spread the word about kidney donation?
I occasionally post on Jewish Internet groups, Craig’s list and Facebook. I have had people donate a kidney mostly as a result of Jewish Internet groups. Sometimes, I have people who contact me as a result of an Internet search, as there have been many articles written about my work.
What message do you have to our readers?
If you or someone you know is in need of a kidney and have family members who are healthy enough to donate, please have them be tested first. Unfortunately, because of the great shortage of kidney donors, we can’t help everyone. If a family member or relative in particular, is not the right blood type or not a match, then sign up for a kidney swap program. Most hospitals are connected with a swap program. I know of one person who needed a kidney. She was type O and her mother was type B. The mother went into the kidney swap program, and two months later the daughter had her kidney. (In order for her daughter to get the kidney, the mother donated to someone else in the swap program.)
For those considering kidney donation: Kidney donors are desperately needed! Close to 100,000 people in the United States are in need of a kidney and thousands of people die each year while they wait. Most people on dialysis have 2 kidneys – when one goes, the other goes at the same time; most dialysis patients die within 10 years. Afraid of living with one kidney – 1 out of approximately every 750 people are born with one kidney and may never know it!
Surgery for kidney donation is done laproscopically and the hospital stay is usually 1-2 days. Most people I know went back to work 2 weeks later. There is no special diet required or medication. And it does not affect one’s ability to have children.
Life is the same with one kidney as with two! I truly hope more people will consider giving the gift of life – the greatest gift of all!
Chaya’s kidney donation project is endorsed by Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser who says, “Chaya’s work is real hatzalah. To put it simply, she’s involved in saving lives. I encourage all who can to support her work or to actually become a donor, and to take part in this choshuve mitzvah. It is a Dovar Sheomaid B’romo Shel Olam (From Rabbi Goldwasser’s book “Tishrei” – page 6)
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Quick Facts About Living Donation
- A live organ can come from a family member, good friend, spouse, in-law or even from a stranger. Thanks to improved medications, a genetic link between the donor and recipient is no longer required to ensure a successful transplant.
- The organ most commonly given by a living donor is the kidney. People usually have two kidneys, and one is all that is needed to live a normal life. When the kidney is removed, the single normal kidney will increase in size to compensate for the loss of the donated kidney. Parts of other organs including the lung, liver and pancreas are now being transplanted from living donors.
- To donate a kidney, you must be in good health and have normal kidney function. The prospective donor and recipient must have compatible blood types.
- If you wish to donate to a stranger, it is important to educate yourself on donation and make sure you understand the risks and benefits of donation. If you decide to pursue donation, you will need to contact transplant centers in your area.
- Donors are never financially compensated. Under federal law, it is illegal to receive money or gifts in exchange for an organ donation. The cost of the living donor’s evaluation, testing and surgery are generally paid for by the recipient’s Medicare or private health insurance. Time off from work and travel expenses are not covered by Medicare or private insurance. However, donors may be eligible for sick leave, state disability and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
- A kidney can be removed in either of two ways, the traditional open surgery or the laparoscopic technique.
For more information about living donation, visit the National Kidney Foundation’s website www.livingdonors.org.
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KidneyMitzvah.org – www.KidneyMitzvah.org
Renewal.org – www.Renewal.org
Matnat Chaim – www.kilya.org.il/en/
Halachic Organ Donation Society (HODS.org) – www.hods.org
National Kidney Foundation – www.kidney.org
Living Kidney Donors Network – www.lkdn.org
Living Kidney Donors Alliance – “Guided Comfort Throughout Your Journey” – www.lkda.org
The Organ Donor Experience: Good Samaritans and the Meaning of Altruism – by Katrina Bramstedt, Rena Down
“About kidney donation” – Dr. Lloyd Ratner – www.columbiakidneytransplant.org/guide.html