Baltimore, MD, May 15, 2023 - After spending time in the hospital with a close relative who had a liver transplant, my STAR-K coworker, Shani Shuvalsky decided that she really wanted to give back to Klal Yisrael. She couldn’t donate her liver, but thought, perhaps, she could be a kidney donor.
About 1-1/2 years later, in 2018, she was swabbed at a local Renewal event and subsequently called to say she was a match for a potential recipient. Unfortunately, a knee replacement prevented her from donating her kidney then. A year-and-a-half after her surgery, she called Renewal to say she was ready to be a donor. Again, she was a match for someone, but it turned out, at the last minute, that someone else was a better match.
In the summer of 2022, Shani once again pursued Renewal to see if any other potential recipients had come up. Shani recalls, “I asked Renewal, ’Do you still want me? Am I still in your database?’ I was told I was, and in September 2022, I received a phone call saying that I was a match for someone. I started the process then, which lasted up until the transplant date – Thursday, May 11. Fortunately, I didn’t have to schlep to New York as Renewal was beginning a relationship with Johns Hopkins Hospital. I still had to undergo two different procedures that would make me a fit to donate my kidney to the recipient.
“Boruch Hashem, I kept my cool the whole time,” Shani continues. “When people asked me if my husband was on board, I’d tell them, he is, but he really didn’t think that I would be approved to be a match. I feel so good about being healthy enough to do this. It’s a very big accomplishment for me. Just knowing that I can help save a person’s life and give that person so many more years and make a difference is just an incredible feeling of satisfaction. I’m joining the ranks of people who have done it, and as Jews we are taught that if you save one life, it is as if you have saved the entire world.”
Shani lauds Renewal for all the support the organization has given her, throughout the process. “Renewal is kicking in everything it can to make everything as easy as possible, including getting so much support from previous Renewal donors. It’s like giving birth – you don’t remember the challenging parts; you just feel the euphoria that you were able to do something like this.”
But the story doesn’t end here; it gets even more amazing….
Shani elaborates: “A couple weeks before I donated my kidney, I was speaking to one of our STAR-K rabbis about it, and he mentioned that he knew someone getting a kidney at Johns Hopkins the same day I was. That is when I put two and two together…. I never knew of this out-of-town STAR-K mashgiach and still don’t know who he is, but Tuesday night, two days before the transplant, Renewal forwarded the name of the recipient to daven for. The fact that we both have a STAR-K connection is really min hashamayim! It’s really hashgacha pratis (Divine Providence) and crazy when you think about it. What are the odds of that? In the zechus of doing this, it should be a shomer for my family, our extended family, and our STAR-K family -- and all those tefilos should be m’keim!”
After finally meeting the recipient over Shabbos, Shani shared: “It was unreal meeting him in person! He had so much appreciation for my husband and myself that we gave him a new lease on life. His coloring was good, and he was feeling so much better than the past two years! Boruch Hashem I was able to help another yid out! As I told the doctor this morning, soon I will forget all about it and go on with normal life! The doctor responded, “Never forget what you have done; that should remain with you always!”
Please continue to daven for Shoshana bas Bracha Sarah Rivka and Yisroel Zev ben Nechama for a complete and speedy recovery.