Kidney donation sets off chain reaction of giving

Avraham Shapira wanted to keep his act a secret — but saved more lives by going public

Illustrative photo of an operating room. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of an operating room. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

When Avraham Shapira donated a kidney to a man he had never met, he intended to keep his act a secret. On his father’s advice, though, he went public — and set off a lifesaving chain reaction.

Shapira, 32, of the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, got an email a year and a half ago about a woman who needed a kidney transplant and, though filled with compassion, took no action, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Wednesday. But when he later heard about what someone on dialysis was going through, he felt compelled to act.

“I realized that these people had no life, and that I could give them life with a bit of effort,” he told the paper.

After being tested and found fit to donate, Shapira gave his kidney to a 50-year-old man whom he had never met. He kept his act under wraps until his father convinced him to go public, saying that he might inspire others to do as he had done.

So Shapira started a blog. His father, it turns out, was right.

Some months later, Shapira’s brother-in-law, Yehuda Rabinovich, 28, of the West Bank settlement of Amona, donated a kidney to a 60-year-old man at Ichilov Hospital.

“I saw that Avraham had donated a kidney and that he was going on with his life as usual,” he said. “Why did I donate? I just wanted to give. People close to me raised an eyebrow, but they understood my motives eventually.”

Another donor inspired by Shapira’s example was Avraham Goldschmidt, 35, secretary of the northern West Bank community of Alei Zahav, who donated a kidney to a 60-year-old woman at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva. “I met with Shapira and decided to donate,” he said. “I’ve been happy ever since. As clichéd as it sounds, a person doesn’t get many opportunities to save a life.”

It didn’t stop there. About two months ago, Avraham Rahamim, 36, of Yitzhar, went to Beilinson Hospital to donate a kidney to a 35-year-old man from northern Israel. “I wanted to donate a kidney for many years, but I was afraid,” he said. “When I saw that people could live full lives after donating, I got the courage and the final push to do it.”

The fifth link in this noble chain is Gabi Revivo, 35, of Peduel, who donated a kidney after consulting with Shapira. Sixth is Revivo’s brother, who donated after speaking to Gabi. Many others who are considering donating a kidney have contacted Shapira for advice.

Gershon Mesika, head of the Shomron Regional Council, where all of the donors live, commented, “We are proud of our residents, who turned their individual acts into a resonant message of unity and giving.”

Yedioth Ahronoth reported that approximately 850 Israelis are waiting for kidney donations, and another 310 people are waiting for donations of other organs.

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