Part of a kidney dialysis machine in operation. (Photo/U.S. National Archives and Defense Visual Information Distribution Service)
Part of a kidney dialysis machine in operation. (Photo/U.S. National Archives and Defense Visual Information Distribution Service)

‘No greater mitzvah’: Bay Area man seeks kidney donor

A 45-year-old Bay Area man is in need of a kidney, and he’s appealing to the Jewish community for help.

“Please know that there can be no greater mitzvah than literally saving a life,” his rabbi, Raleigh Resnick of Chabad of the Tri-Valley in Pleasanton, wrote in an email to congregants and other community members on April 4. “And no greater satisfaction than knowing part of you is continuously keeping a life, and family, alive and together.”

The man, who works in the software industry and has asked not to be named for his family’s privacy, is in stage 5 kidney failure (also known as end-stage renal disease) and is starting dialysis, a process of artificially cleansing waste from the bloodstream that usually takes multiple hours per day. He’s also on “a lot of medication,” which is “keeping me alive, for now,” he said.

Without a volunteer donor, he is relying on a wait list, which he could be on for six to 10 years before a match is found. He has already been on the list for three years.

“The best outcome would be to get back to pretty much a normal life, with a transplant,” said the man, whose teenage daughter celebrated her bat mitzvah and went to Hebrew school at the Chabad.

He has heard some good news since Resnick informed the community of his need. The rabbi himself began the process of getting evaluated to see if he would be a good candidate, and another person, whom the patient does not know, reached out to do the same last week.

“The community is starting to rally around me,” he said, “which is amazing.”

While heartened by the initial inquiries, “the more people willing to go through the process, the better,” he said, “because of the rigorous requirements for the donor.”

The primary consideration for a good donor is that the person be in excellent health. Because of a sophisticated swap program at UCSF, the donor does not need to be a match to the recipient, but can kick off an exchange that may include four or more people.

One can live a long and healthy life with one kidney, according to the CDC.

The cost of the procedure will be covered entirely by the recipient’s insurance, and the donor will have a medical team dedicated exclusively to their individual health considerations, to avoid a conflict of interest with the recipient’s doctors.

Finally, inquiring about the procedure is in no way an obligation to proceed with the surgery, the man said.

“Anyone who’s even considering this — it’s really big of them,” he told J. “It’s something that will save my life and get me more time with my family.”

For more information or to get involved, contact Rabbi Raleigh Resnick at [email protected].

Gabe Stutman
Gabe Stutman

Gabe Stutman is the news editor of J. Follow him on Twitter @jnewsgabe.