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Rabbi Moshe Gewirtz

Renewal had always been a blip on my radar. The ads publicizing the need for a kidney would tug at my heart – each represented someone in need – but I never took action.

Five years ago, my opportunity presented itself: an awareness event. I listened to donors’ stories, learned about risks and statistics, and joined the Renewal database. Then… five years of radio silence. Several months ago, I finally got the call: there was a potential match. I refreshed my research, got an enthusiastic go-ahead from my family and Rav, and decided to proceed. To my disappointment, I was not compatible; I resigned myself to another long wait. But two weeks later, Renewal called again: I was successfully matched to a 33-year-old mother of three young children. I felt like I’d won the lottery – a chance to help a young family! There was just one problem. Due to scheduling conflicts, I’d need to undergo surgery by a specific date; if not, we’d have to wait another six months. Hospitals typically do not account for patients’ schedules. With Renewal on my side, the transplant took place three weeks later, on the exact date I’d wanted. In the wee hours of transplant day, I made initial contact with my recipient: heartfelt letters from her and her children (“Now my mother will be healthy for my bar mitzvah”) that filled me with emotion and renewed confidence.


It’s been three weeks since surgery and my recipient constantly updates us on her reclaimed life: her food no longer tastes metallic; she has the energy to cook nutritious meals and send her kids off to school. I am back to driving, giving classes, and running programs as a rabbi in Marlboro, NJ. While I felt pain, it was good pain – the pain of saving someone’s life. 

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