Family seeking funds to bring kidney donor to Bay Area

A San Jose man who needs a kidney for life-saving surgery has found a donor, and now needs money to fly the donor and his family from Israel to the Bay Area so the surgery can be scheduled early in July.

Dimitrios “Jim” Vlassopoulos, 50, was diagnosed with kidney failure a year ago, and is on 15 hours of daily dialysis. Vlassopoulos, a computer engineer at Cisco Systems, Inc., moved to the Bay Area from Israel two years ago with his wife, Galit Gefen, and their five children.


Galit Gefen and Jim Vlassopoulos

“He was lucky enough to find a donor in Israel, but Jim can’t fly there because of his condition,” said Ronit Jacobs, director of the Israeli Cultural Connection at the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto. “The Israeli community has come together in a beautiful way to try to help support this family. Now we are trying to raise funds to bring in the prospective donor, his wife and young son.”


The hospital requires that the donor spend one month here, in case of surgical complications.

Yogev Azulay, the prospective donor, contacted Vlassopoulos a few months ago after seeing a Facebook post about the needed kidney.

“When he read our post, he was at a hospital taking care of his niece, who had a severe head injury. Her parents had been told to prepare for the worst,” Gefen said.

“He told us that as he prayed for his niece, she woke up and started walking and talking as though nothing had happened to her. The doctors said they can’t explain her recovery.”

At that point, Azulay, 26, told Gefen that he became even more convinced he would donate his kidney. In May, he traveled to the Bay Area with his wife from their home in Modiin to have the necessary tests, and was found to be a match.

Gefen, 46, who works part time in a Hebrew day school in Los Gatos, said the family already has raised about $20,000 in donations and needs another $180,000 to help cover expenses and pay for Azulay’s trip.

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