As a hospital chaplain I have entered countless patient rooms, ranging in age from newly born to 105 years old. I have seen people with all sorts of sickness and disease in every part of the hospital. However, I knew that the patient I was about to see would be different for me. I have heard thousands of stories—stories of pain, suffering, sadness and many stories of miracles and gratitude. I have been moved by them all. But I knew that his story would touch me in a very different way.
As I walked down the hospital corridor to room 310, I felt my heart pounding.
I approached the room with feelings of extreme excitement and nervousness.
Before I had a chance to open my mouth to introduce myself, he humbly said, “I know who you are. Pull up a chair and come in.”
I sat down. Both of us had tears in our eyes that rolled down our faces. No words were spoken nor had to be said. We needed to feel and be in the moment. We stared at each other and sat in silence for what seemed like a while.
“Nice to meet you, Marc,” I finally said, with a smile on my face.
Marc was a recipient of an altruistic kidney donation through an organization called Renewal.
Marc was a 57-year-old man who had lost his wife to cancer 16 years earlier and was left with two young children to raise alone. He proceeded to tell me more of his “story.”
It became evident within the first few moments of listening to Marc what a remarkable person he was, his family and his entire network of friends were. Learning all about Marc’s life and journey over the past few years living with kidney disease was quite inspirational.
“He who saves one life saves a world.” That quote from the Mishna took on a new meaning for me in that time I spent with Marc. It made more sense. So many people’s lives were now impacted from this one act of a kidney donation. Marc was also already devising plans to “give back” and help others with his new lease on life.
This visit was particularly impactful to me because Marc’s kidney donor was my husband, Glenn.
While sitting by Marc’s bedside for over an hour, the name “Marc” was no longer just a name on paper that my husband and I had read about just a few days earlier. Marc instantly became “real.” He was a father, friend, brother, employee and so much more. A man loved, valued and needed by so many and involved in so many worthy causes. Having heard minimal information as to who would be the recipient of Glenn’s kidney, I was thankful to have the opportunity to actually meet Marc in the hospital (upon approval from Renewal and the medical staff). I thought to myself and later remarked how great of a “shidduch” (match) this was on all levels.
“Your husband gave me a new life.”
As the first anniversary of Glenn’s kidney donation and Marc’s new kidney is approaching on August 3, we are feeling very grateful. Most importantly, grateful to God for a successful surgery and recovery for both Glenn and Marc. Grateful to Renewal and their outstanding and hard-working team for walking Marc, Glenn and our families through every single step of the process. Grateful to the skilled transplant surgeons and the team at Northwell Hospital. Grateful to our families and solid, wonderful friends who supported us through their prayers and words (and of course their food and other support). Grateful that Marc, his family and their friends have now become part of our group of friends and family. We understand that the relationship that we have and continue to have with Marc is quite unique and we are grateful for that as well.
May Hashem bless Glenn and Marc with good health for many more years to come—years in which they will both continue to be role models for others in how they live their lives with selflessness, caring and kindness.
Renewal is a Jewish organization that helps match needy kidney recipients with willing donors. They accompany everyone involved with every kind of support needed in order to help make the process go as smoothly as possible. More information about Renewal can be found at www.renewal.org.
Debby Pfeiffer is a board-certified chaplain working at Morristown Medical Center through its affiliation with the Jewish Federation of Greater Metrowest, NJ. She resides in Bergenfield, NJ, with her husband and children. She can be reached at [email protected]