Thirty-five years old and on dialysis, Casey K. hopes to one day live “as normal a life as possible,” including raising a family and pursuing a teaching career. In the meantime, her dreams will have to remain on hold, until she finds a kidney donor.
Casey has never had it easy. Born with a rare genetic disease that causes organ damage, she had two liver transplants by the time she was five. Unfortunately, the medication meant to prevent her body from rejecting the transplants left her with kidney impairment and hearing loss.
A member of Our Way for the Jewish Deaf and Hard of Hearing, a division of the OU’s National Jewish Council for Disabilities (NJCD), Carey decided to turn to Rabbi Eliezer Lederfeind, director of Our Way, to help with her search. Rabbi Lederfeind urged Casey to reach out to Renewal, a Brooklyn-based non-profit that facilitates kidney-donor matches within the Jewish community. She and her husband traveled to New York from their home in Houston, Texas to meet with the Renewal team.
Together, they strategized on the best ways to get the word out. Part of Renewal’s game plan involves educating the patients’ own communities. Rabbi Josh Sturm, Renewal’s director of outreach, brings “awareness campaigns” to synagogues on the patient’s home turf, clarifying the steps of the kidney donation process. Every event is patient-arranged.
“We believe in the zero-pressure approach,” says Rabbi Sturm. “Our goal is that people walk away more open minded towards the idea of kidney donation.”
Along with her Houston-based outreach efforts, Casey also enlisted the aid of relatives in New York to help organize campaigns in the Jewish communities in the New York metropolitan area. Renewal strongly urged her to cast a wide net, and publicize the need via e-mail and social media. Casey is counting on the power of faith, PR and the Jewish heart.
Below is her plea to the Jewish community:
Please consider becoming a kidney donor. Your generous help will allow me to reach my dreams. The donor would have to be B or O (positive or negative). If you are considering getting tested for Casey to see if you are a match, contact Renewal at 718.431.9831, ext. 209 or e-mail R1124@renewal.org
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.