June 14, 2024
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Renewal to Host Feb. 4 Teaneck Swabbing Event

There are currently 90,000 people on the kidney transplant waiting list, according to Rabbi Josh Sturm, director of outreach for Renewal. Renewal is a nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading the word about the importance of kidney donation, hosting swabbing events to identify donors and supporting both the donors and the recipients when a match is made. According to Renewal, chronic kidney disease afflicts over 26 million Americans. Luckily, live kidney donation is a safe and proven treatment that generally allows patients to resume normal lives post-transplant. While someone with kidney disease can often survive relatively well on dialysis, a transplant is often a preferred choice of treatment.

Teaneck is no stranger to kidney transplants. According to Rabbi Sturm, “Teaneck is incredible with an amazing 42 kidney donors having come from Teaneck including two community rabbis.”

On Sunday, February 4, there will be a swabbing and educational event at Congregation Rinat Yisrael, 389 West Englewood Avenue in Teaneck. The swabbing will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., and there will be a feature presentation by Rabbi Sturm featuring a Teaneck kidney donor and a recipient from 9:45 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Light refreshments will be served. The swabbing is an easy and simple test. All the potential donor needs to do is open their mouth and swab the inside of their cheek with a Q-tip. If after analysis, you are deemed to be a potential match, then there will be more extensive tests involved.

This is a true community event with over 25 synagogues supporting it. Teaneck is hosting the event because two community members are in need of lifesaving kidney transplants. One wishes to remain anonymous but the other has permitted The Jewish Link to publicize his name.

Howard (Howie) Sterman has long roots in Bergen and Passaic County. Born and raised in Passaic, Howie and his wife, Ruchie (Morah Ruchie) lived in Teaneck for 45 years. Howie was the first president of the Young Israel of Teaneck and was nearly everyone’s insurance agent over the years. Sadly, Howie now has chronic kidney failure and undergoes dialysis every evening while he waits for a lifesaving kidney transplant.

“The more people who are aware, the greater the chances of finding someone for Howie, the other person and all the other people on the transplant waiting list,” Ruchie shared. “It really can be you. You just have to come and be swabbed. The test is simple.”

According to Rabbi Sturm, the goal is to find kidneys for both Teaneck community members. “To do that, we’re going to be doing a swabbing drive. We also want people to come out and learn about the donation process. You don’t have to be a potential donor to attend.” Anyone swabbed at this event will first be checked to see if they are a match for either of the two Teaneck community members. If not, then they will be compared against the Renewal database to see if they might be a match for someone else.”

Teaneck resident Aviva Breda donated one of her kidneys in May 2019. “I went to a Renewal event in 2017 when Rabbi [Yosef] Adler received a kidney. That was the first time I heard about swabbing and kidney donation. I swabbed that night and then swabbed again two years later. That swab resulted in a donation five months later. I would do it a thousand more times if I could; it’s the greatest chesed I’ve ever done. In donating my kidney to save someone’s life, I gained so much more than I gave. I know it’s not for everyone, but I would encourage everyone to think about it. It’s changed my life for sure.” Though donors and recipients don’t always meet, Aviva met her recipient at a Renewal event at the Teaneck Jewish Center at the end of 2019.

Renewal recently celebrated its 1,000th kidney transplant.

To learn more about the February 4 event or kidney transplant in general, visit https://www.renewal.org/.

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