This article originally appeared in Jewish Action Magazine WINTER 2010/5771 – Volume 71, No. 2. For more articles, click Jewish Action Magazine or visit: http://www.ou.org/jewish_action
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Ever since Chaya Lipschutz, creator of KidneyMitzvah, answered an ad to donate a kidney to a mother of two in New Jersey, she’s been busy linking those in need of kidneys with others willing to donate theirs—and aptly living up to her name, “Chaya,” Hebrew for “life-giver.”
Lipschutz, who hails from Brooklyn, began her mission by renting a booth at the 2005 Jewish Market Place Expo, held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York, to promote kidney donation. She continued to spread the word about the pressing need for donors through postings on various Internet lists, speaking engagements and interviews on NPR, with the New York Daily News and the Jerusalem Post, and with other media outlets. From across the globe, donors and those needing kidneys started turning to Lipschutz for assistance. Her kidney matchmaking venture quickly took off.
One of Lipschutz’s first success stories involved her brother, Yosef, who in 2007, at the age of fifty, donated one of his kidneys to a grateful recipient. In 2009, with the aim of drawing wider interest, she launched kidneymitzvah.com. Since the site’s inception, she has made eight kidney matches.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, more than 86,000 people nationwide are waiting for a healthy kidney as of this writing. Last year, more than 4,600 lost their fight for life while waiting.
Finding the right match often requires more than a little determination. Rabbi Ephraim Simon, co-director of Friends of Lubavitch of Bergen County in Teaneck, New Jersey, a forty-one-year-old father of nine, responded to a mass e-mail from Lipschutz announcing the need for a kidney donor for a twelve-year-old girl. Soon after, she informed him that a donor had been found. “I felt like I didn’t act fast enough,” says Rabbi Simon. “I knew right then and there that if somebody else was in need, I was going to be the one to save his life.”
He insisted that Lipschutz continue to keep his name on file for others in need. Eventually, he donated his kidney to a Satmar Chassid, a father of ten from the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.
“There is no greater feeling than knowing you brought life to another human being,” says Rabbi Simon. “It has truly been an amazing experience that ranks right up there with the birth of my children.”
“Almost every week, people are calling me, begging me to find a kidney donor,” says Lipschutz, “not only for themselves, but for family members, friends and others in their community. People on dialysis are suffering terribly.” Lipschutz doesn’t accept a penny for her work. “Just like my kidney donation was altruistic—so is my kidney matchmaking. My goal is to help save lives.”
Bayla Sheva Brenner is senior writer in the OU Communications and Marketing Department. To find out more about “Save a Life – Donate a Kidney”, please visit: http://kidneymitzvah.com/
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.