At my day job, I do banking and financial work for a company. One night a week, I ride a volunteer ambulance shift in my town; I’m on the front lines of helping people at their time of illness or distress, sometimes even saving their lives. Being in the ambulance corps has had another effect – it’s deepened my gratitude to Hashem for my own health and wellbeing. I’ve always had an idealistic side, so when Renewal came to our shul to talk about the need for kidney donations, the message resonated with me.
With the encouragement of my wife, Renewal’s assistance, and the support of the Mount Sinai Hospital staff, I completed the medical testing and was cleared for surgery. After several unsuccessful attempts, they matched me with a compatible recipient.
Renewal’s Rabbi Josh Sturm met up with us as we checked in at Mount Sinai and asked if I wanted to meet my recipient. I could barely refrain from bursting out, “OF COURSE, THAT’S WHY I’M HERE!” We met and tearfully embraced, and then each of us was wheeled out on a gurney to be prepped for our operations.
Now, a year later, we are celebrating. I learned that my recipient had not been doing well on dialysis, and when his daughter got the phone call from Renewal, she wept with gratitude, “now he’ll be able to attend my wedding!” He is continually grateful, and I feel so fulfilled and gratified that I could make his renewed life possible. At the ambulance corps, I can save people with my skills; saving someone with a part of myself is a different matter altogether. I have no residual medical effects. My strength rapidly returned after a short recuperation. I resumed my ambulance shift. I quickly got back up to my 150 miles per week of bicycle commuting. The Mishna says כל המקיים נפש אחת, מעלין עליו כאילו קיים עולם and I have had the privilege to fulfill this precept with no lasting sacrifice to myself, Baruch Hashem, and am all the better for it.