A Kidney Match Made In Heaven For A KGH Resident

A Kidney Match Made In Heaven For A KGH Resident

By Susie Garber

L-R: Aaron Chait (recipient), Dr. Tzvi Fischer (donor), Dr. Stuart Greenstein (transplant surgeon)

I must say, baruch Hashem, I live in an amazing community and I live on an amazing block. There are so many wonderful hashgachah stories right here. Baruch Hashem, one of my neighbors shared his story, which just took place on June 13. The date itself (6/13) is indicative of the miracle that happened.

Mr. Aaron Chait, a resident of Kew Gardens Hills, suffered from a severe kidney problem towards the end of February 2018, and was going to need dialysis. The solution to his problem was a kidney transplant. To this end, he spoke with Menachem Friedman, Program Director of Renewal, an Orthodox non-profit organization in Brooklyn that helps facilitate live kidney transplants within the Jewish community

Mr. Friedman spoke highly of Dr. Stuart Greenstein, a frum transplant surgeon at Montefiore Hospital. Mr. Chait noted that Dr. Greenstein is a Harvard-trained doctor who graduated with honors but has no airs about him. He is a humble man who wants the best for his patients. “This doctor is really incredible,” Mr. Chait noted. “He’s accessible 24/7. Even now when he is in Israel, I have his cell phone number and I can call him and he will call back.”

So, there was hashgachah finding this doctor through Renewal, and Renewal helped with the process of finding a donor. “We could not have done it without them,” Mrs. Chait noted. “They were with us every step of the way, and they are still calling and checking up on him.” Right before the surgery, Menachem Friedman and David Schischa, Director of Development from Renewal, came to the hospital and spoke with Aaron to give him chizuk. After the surgery that night, someone from Renewal came to speak with Aaron again to see how he was doing. Mrs. Chait noted that Rabbi Joshua Sturm, Director of Outreach at Renewal, stayed with her during the surgery. The Renewal organization was always there behind the scenes, helping every step of the way. Mr. and Mrs. Chait both shared that Renewal is an amazing organization of chesed to which the Jewish community owes a tremendous debt of gratitude, as they have helped facilitate 500 live donor transplants.

The story of Mr. Chait’s donor is truly one of Hashem’s hashgachah. The kidney donor was Dr. Tzvi Fischer, a retired gastroenterologist from Fairlawn, New Jersey. He had gone to Renewal to offer to be a donor but never heard back. He happened to be in Israel this past Pesach when it was discovered that he would be the right match for Mr. Chait, but because he was in Israel he missed the call from Renewal. He received the message two weeks later.

Mr. Chait said, “What Dr. Fischer did restores your faith in humanity. I never met a tzadik like that before. Here’s a man who gave an absolute stranger a part of his body. There’s nothing comparable to that.”

Mrs. Chait explained that the average waiting list for a kidney donation is seven-to-eight years, and this is with a cadaver donor. Yet, miraculously, Mr. Chait’s wait was only a couple months, from March to early June. The donor and the recipient did not know each other’s identity until after the transplant. This is the way Renewal operates, so when the donor found out the name of the recipient and when Mr. Chait found out the name of the donor, they were both amazed because there was a connection: The donor was a talmid of Rabbi Leibel Chait zt”l, Aaron Chait’s uncle, who was Dr. Fischer’s rebbe at MTA (Yeshiva University High School for Boys) and remained very close to him over the years. Rabbi Leibel Chait was the m’sadeir kiddushin for Dr. and Mrs. Fischer, Mr. Chait noted.

Aaron related some more background regarding his connection to Rabbi Leibel Chait. When his uncle, Rabbi Leibel Chait, was suffering from severe heart issues, Aaron went with his uncle’s grandson to visit him on Shabbos in the hospital, and said to the family, “Please, we need to transfer Uncle Leibel to St. Francis Hospital [a noted heart center] for better care.” Baruch Hashem, they listened. Bypass surgery was performed and it saved his life. Baruch Hashem, he recovered and lived a few years afterward. His uncle was so grateful to Aaron for helping to get him to that hospital that he insisted that they learn together weekly. Aaron truly enjoyed and cherished this learning time with his uncle. Aaron shared his thoughts regarding his kidney transplant: “I feel that my Uncle Leibel was mispalel on my behalf to the Ribbono shel Olam.”

Aaron is extremely grateful for all the t’filos of friends, the KGH community, all his family, and for his close family members visiting k’varim here and in Eretz Yisrael on his behalf. Aaron also expressed a special hakaras ha’tov to Rabbinical Seminary of America-Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim, which ran a special event for Renewal to locate a donor on his behalf right before Pesach, and to Yaakov Serle, co-publisher of the Queens Jewish Link, who helped spread the word through the newspaper.

Mrs. Chait shared something else incredible. The morning of the surgery, Rosh Chodesh Tamuz, Dr. Greenstein and Dr. Fischer both davened at the same vasikin minyan in New Jersey. Dr. Greenstein was called for the Levi aliyah and Dr. Fischer was called for the Yisrael aliyah.

So now, three weeks after the surgery, Mr. Chait must be careful to allow his body to adjust to the new kidney. He has to take immune suppressant drugs and is on a restricted diet.

Eventually, he hopes he will be able to go back to running and exercising. Regarding some of these inconveniences he commented, “The gift of longer life supersedes any negative aspects.” He is so grateful for the opportunity to be able to enjoy his family, and he davens for many more years of Yiddishe nachas from his children and grandchildren and our beautiful community of KGH. Aaron shared that he spoke with someone who had a kidney transplant who told him that he now has a very normal life and feels better than he felt before. B’ezras Hashem, Mr. Chait will have the same feeling.

When asked what lesson he gained from this experience, Aaron replied, “You have to have faith and daven to the Ribbono shel Olam. He is going to help you. You see all the signs and realize it wasn’t just a simple shidduch. It couldn’t just come about on its own. The r’fuah came in a deep and meaningful way. I have appreciation to Hashem for His chesed and hope, b’ezras Hashem, to enjoy long years to do His work.”

May Hashem grant a continued complete r’fuah to Mr. Chait and all the cholim in klal Yisrael.

By Susie Garber

Kidney donation is a process that can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Renewal has streamlined the process by working together with transplant centers to make the experience more efficient. Please note that Renewal believes in a zero pressure approach. This means that nobody will guilt you into this, and that you are free to back out at any time. To inquire further about becoming a kidney donor, please email info@renewal.org or call 718-431-9831 (ext. 209). All information that is provided will be kept strictly confidential.