Baltimore, MD - Nov. 9, 2023 - “You are going to do this one day,” my husband told me 15 years ago. This was right after we heard Lori Palatnik speak about her experience donating a kidney.

I kept thinking, what a zechus! I was enamored but didn’t give it much thought.

A while back my father-in-law was in need of a kidney. No one in the family was a match. He initially received a cadaver kidney. Approximately 10 years later, he was in need of a kidney again. Another relative came up as a serious candidate for donation. I remember being at a family Chanukah party when he found out that he was disqualified as a donor. He was simply distraught. I couldn’t understand the intensity of his feelings until I found myself in a similar situation. 

In 2019 Renewal hosted a swabbing event at our shul, Shomrei Emunah. I got swabbed but didn’t expect much to come of it.

In December 2021, my sweet 7-year-old niece, Evie, was diagnosed with cancer. Everyone in our family took on mitzvos as a merit for her recovery. I felt so helpless. What could I do as a zechus for a refuah shelaima?

A short while later I overheard Maggie Silver, a kidney donor, sharing the details of her journey. “I am so jealous of you,” I told her. “I swabbed a while back and they never called me.”

Without skipping a beat, she responded, “They didn’t call you yet.”

Two weeks later I received a phone call from Renewal about a potential match. It seemed like Hashem was waiting for me to actually verbalize my desire to donate.

I told Chana Greenfeld, the Renewal rep, how desperate I was for this mitzvah opportunity. My husband was on board right away and we discussed the possibility with our Rav and family. We then traveled to NY for testing and got the all-clear to schedule the surgery.

Wishing to share some special family time, we flew to Florida for a family Chanukah trip right before the scheduled date. A day before we were set to head back home, I received a call from Cornell. The donor coordinator told me that there were concerns with some of my test results and the surgery would be canceled.

I was devastated. I requested to speak to the nephrologist who didn’t seem to care as much as I did. He heard my argument that there might be a possibility that the results are inaccurate. I wanted to redo the tests since I needed to know for myself if there are health concerns.

After our conversation ended, I had to face my children who were blissfully enjoying their last minutes of pool time. Before I could even catch my breath, the phone rang again. It was R’ Ephraim Eliyahu Shapiro.

I had attempted to reach him earlier in the week to ask for a bracha for my upcoming kidney donation. He began with an apology for not returning my call sooner.

“I am so thankful you called back right now! I need your chizuk. I was just informed that my scheduled kidney donation was canceled,” I explained.

I will always remember Rabbi Shapiro’s wise response. “For whatever reason,” he said, “Hashem doesn’t want Chaya Lasson to donate her kidney now.” He repeated that refrain over and over again.

I ended the conversation in a much calmer state of mind. We decided to extend our trip. It took a while, but I did end up repeating the tests. This time I was cleared for surgery.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, our daughter in law in Eretz Yisroel was hospitalized with pregnancy-related complications. She had some family support but I really wanted to help out as well. I was faced with a difficult dilemma. Was it more important for me to help my family or to donate my kidney?

The answer came unexpectedly. We attended the Chemed Medical Conference in February. Rabbi Asher Weiss and Professor Avraham Steinberg, experts in both halacha and medicine, were in attendance and helped guide us with this decision. They advised us to postpone the surgery.

I was so grateful to be able to assist when our daughter in law gave birth to a healthy set of twins! We traveled to Eretz Yisroel after Pesach and truly cherished each moment we shared.

We returned to the States on a Friday. Pre-op was scheduled for Monday and the transplant for Thursday.

After traveling into NYC by train, we had no idea where to go once we arrived. We just followed the crowd up the escalator. I noticed a woman wheeling a suitcase with the logo of the National Kidney Donor Association. Once we got off the escalator, the same woman turned around and came face to face with me. I noticed her shirt had the same logo as well. On impulse, I asked her why she was wearing the NKDA logo. She shared that she was just returning from a lobbying trip to Washington, DC. She went there to advocate for kidney donors to receive more support throughout the donation process.

I felt the loving kiss from Hashem, showing me that He was with me on this journey.

On the day of surgery, I realized that it has been nine months since I started testing. I was finally headed into the OR. My kidney donation was a true labor of love!

At the hospital, we were met by Rabbi Moshe Gewirtz who helped us as I was prepped for surgery. As I went into the operating room, I felt the embodiment of Hineni Hashem! Here I am, ready to go under the knife to give a fellow Jew another chance at life.

Recovery was a process. I had not eaten since Wednesday night but by Shabbos morning I was feeling slightly better. I asked my son Akiva to get some food from the Bikur Cholim room. To my great surprise, fifteen minutes later he was back in my room with some potato kugel and a bouquet of flowers! So he explained that after stopping by the Bikur Cholim room, he took the Shabbos elevator back to my floor. Another person got on with a bouquet of flowers. He was all disgruntled and down. He complained that the nurses didn’t allow him to give the flowers to his wife. He began venting about frustrating hospital rules and regulations.  

The fellow asks my son and the other guy there, “Did you ever hear of Renewal?”

“That’s all I’ve been hearing, Renewal Renewal Renewal for the past 48 hours!,” Akiva piped up. “My mother just donated her kidney on Thursday.”

With awe and admiration the man said “Your mothers kidney is why I’m here bringing flowers to my wife. She was the one that received the kidney from your mom! I guess this isn’t a coincidence at all.  This is why G-d put me in this elevator.”  He handed the flowers to my son and exited the elevator.

I was blown away! What are the chances that a non frum Jew would take the Shabbos elevator together with my son in this large hospital?!

Hashem orchestrated my son’s steps so that he would ride the elevator at exactly the right moment.

After Shabbos, I was released from the hospital and I went to my brother's home to recuperate. My niece, for whom we all davened and did so many mitzvos in her zechus, came in to my room.

 “You know that I donated my kidney as a zechus for your recovery?” I asked her.

She responded with such innocence, “But I already have a Refuah Sheleima!” She had been in remission since December, which amazingly coincided with the time that the surgery was originally scheduled!

A little while later, I called Rabbi Shapiro to inform him that I had donated my kidney.

“I know,” he responded.

I am still amazed and grateful for his strong conviction and the powerful chizuk he gave us.

My journey isn’t over yet and I have already seen tremendous Hashgacha.