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Wednesday, October 05, 2022
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During the season of our weekly learning of Pirkei Avot, we are advised in Perek 4, Mishna 2,

“Ben Azzai said, ‘Run to perform even a minor Mitzvah, and flee from sin, for one mitzvah leads to another mitzvah…’”

Founded 17 years ago by Mendy Reiner, according to Director of Outreach Rabbi Josh Sturm, Renewal has facilitated over 850 kidney
transplants in the U.S. and Canada. Each of these lifesaving transplants was made possible by a team of dedicated Renewal administrators, skilled surgeons operating out of excellent state-of-the-art hospital facilities and, above all, an ever-expanding roster of kind-hearted donors. When interviewing donors about their priceless kidney donations, each one seemed to be able to point to another individual who had inspired them through their own personal donation. And so the story goes, “one mitzvah leads to another.”

Today’s profile is of one of many such instances, where a kidney donation by the commissioner of the Yavneh Youth League (YYL) softball league inspired the young mother of a player to donate her kidney. The result was that within a three-year period, two fortunate recipients were blessed with a lengthened, healthy life due to one mitzvah leading to another.

This particular story begins with Howard Eisenstadter of Fair Lawn, New Jersey. On December 24, 2019, the second day of Chanukah, he donated his kidney to a woman who made her way from Syria to Israel at age 13, successfully raised a daughter on her own, and then unfortunately was afflicted with kidney disease. To make matters more dire, her PRA (panel reactive antibodies) level was 100, which meant that it was expected that she would never find a matching donor. Spending three days a week on a dialysis machine, she was put in touch with Renewal in the U.S., and the search began.

Eisenstadter had heard of the work Renewal did in matching potential donors with live recipients. He credits Rabbi Larry Rothwachs, rabbi of Congregation Beth Aaron in Teaneck, for his awareness of “live donations” through an earlier presentation at Congregation Shomrei Torah in Fair Lawn, describing Rothwachs’ kidney donation experience with Renewal. Inspired, Eisenstadter reached out to Renewal but was initially dissuaded by the hospital transplant team because of his earlier medical history.

In 2009, Eisenstadter had collapsed in his home from a subarachnoid brain hemorrhage. His chances for survival were statistically 50%, with a mere 25% chance of returning to his full, previous lifestyle if he did survive. Needless to say, Hashem orchestrated a miraculous recovery and less than two weeks later, Eisenstadter returned home to resume his life fully. In his own words (right before his donation), “I am possibly, more than most, hyper aware of how indefinite our futures really are and how things can change in an instant. I’ve lived the past 10 years going from joy to joy and am grateful for how my life was miraculously saved, by both God and man working together, and for every minute since.”

After initially being held off, in August of 2019, Eisenstadter was contacted by Renewal about moving forward with a donation to a recipient whose rare condition could be matched only with an exceedingly rare donor—and he had been determined to be that donor. He agreed immediately and underwent medical tests; he was ultimately fully cleared for the surgery which took place in late December of 2019. The surgery proved to be a success for both recipient and donor. Eisenstadter was released from the hospital and two days later, was able to walk 1.5 miles and was back to his normal basketball game by early February.

As a result of its newfound relationship with Eisenstadter, Renewal became a sponsor of one of his Yavneh Youth League teams. In return, in May 2021, during its annual fundraiser, Eisenstadter sent out an email to Yavneh Youth League families outlining the work of Renewal in finding kidney donations for those who opt for live transplants from all walks of life and of all ages, from youths to octogenarians.

One reader of that email was Shevy Chait of Teaneck, 30, who is the mother of 9-and-a-half-year-old Ethan, a softball player in the Yavneh Youth League. In reading about Renewal, Chait was reminded of her interest in kidney transplants from her earlier years when she would read up on them in her stepfather’s medical texts. The article motivated her to begin the process herself, and so she reached out to Rabbi Moshe Gewirtz, Renewal’s donor coordinator, to begin the process of becoming a donor. She was found to be an excellent prospect, but her first match fell through. Fortunately, a second match came through in the spring of 2022 and as a teacher she was able to schedule the procedure for her summer break.

On July 26, 2022, a mere few weeks ago, Chait donated a kidney to an 18-year-old young man, Eduardo Rimon, from Mexico, who had already been on painful dialysis for a year. And here the chain of mitzvot continues. At the same hospital, Mount Sinai, seven years prior to this date, the young boy’s mother had donated her own kidney to her husband, the boy’s father. Apparently, through Hashem’s orchestration, her altruistic act was repaid through Chait’s lifesaving donation in the very same hospital.

It is now two weeks after her donation, and Chait is happily regaining her strength with the assistance of devoted family members in Teaneck, brother Ave and sister-in-law Bayla Hayat.

Chait is not new to acts of chesed. At the age of 29, she gave birth to a baby as a surrogate for a Jewish couple who desperately wanted a child. As Chait recounts, “The pregnancy and birth were incredible and really made me feel like I had accomplished something huge and amazing. I had never had the opportunity to do something like that before. I am a young, single mom and I work six days a week. I don’t have the opportunity to be on the ‘giving’ end very often. This experience really taught me a lot about myself and about my goals in life…

“Interestingly, only a few weeks after giving birth to that sweet baby boy, I attended my son Ethan’s softball practice where I met Howard. Months later, I read Howard’s email to the league and the rest is history.

“I am feeling amazing after the kidney donation,” Chait said. “It was hard at first to process the emotional aspect while I was in the hospital. But after returning home I realized the impact of having donated a kidney! I pictured the young recipient waking up after surgery and seeing his parents’ smiling faces. I pictured him flying home and starting a new life, free of pain, free of dialysis.”

Eduardo Rimon, the recipient, is recuperating with his delighted parents Joelle and Chagay Rimon on Long Island before their return home to Mexico City. The Rimon family was grateful for the opportunity to express their feelings after the successful transplant through Renewal. In Joelle’s words, “Our story is a true example of hashgacha pratis (divine providence). Many years ago, my husband’s kidneys failed suddenly. We contacted Renewal from Mexico City and they helped us with the process in New York City. I was eager to donate my kidney to Chagay, and Baruch Hashem, I was a match. It was an extremely happy moment for the family.

“Then, last year my teenage son developed the same kidney issues. We again immediately contacted Renewal for their help and once again we were blessed to have Renewal succeed in finding a match for Eduardo from a beautiful donor called Batsheva [Shevy]. Her selfless donation of her kidney to Eduardo has given our son a new lease on life, Baruch Hashem. I wish I had the words to express our gratitude. We know that people have choices in life. We will always appreciate what Batsheva and the people at Renewal did for us—twice! They are real-life heroes. May Hashem bless them all.”

To learn more about the blessed work of Renewal, located at 4721 New Utrecht Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, go to [email protected] or call 718-431-9831

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