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April is Organ Donor Month

Thanks to new research and technologies, Israel has put into place new policies that could increase organ donation rates by up to 20%. Preservative fluids can be pumped into hearts of near-death patients, allowing for enough time to obtain family consent before organs are transplanted into someone who needs them.

The first heart transplant in Israel took place in 1986 at Hadassah University Medical Center. The Heart Failure Unit at the Hadassah University Medical Center was established to provide the basis for the National Heart Transplant Program. Since then, it has developed into an active center that offers comprehensive medical care to heart failure patients.

Since the program was initiated, over 120 patients have been followed in the center after heart transplantation. Ten percent of the patients were under the age of 21 at the time of transplantation. Many of the patients are alive over ten years following transplantation; the longest living post-transplant patient Hadassah has followed, has survived over 17 years.

To learn more about organ donation, go to www.organdonor.gov. Click on “Becoming a Donor” to register in your state.

A Kidney Donation, 10 Years Later

May marks 10 years since Hadassah member Katie Edelstein donated a kidney to fellow Hadassah member Belle Simon. Since then, they have remained in each other’s lives. Katie and Belle have been an inspiration to Hadassah members everywhere, and even inspired a nurse at Hadassah Ein Kerem to donate a kidney to a patient in need.

Belle Simon:

Just ten years ago, an angel stepped into my life, a life that included three hours, three days a week tethered to a dialysis machine, and offered me one of her kidneys! The miracle of this offer is that she was a match! Every day, I acknowledge my gratitude to Katie Edelstein for this life-changing gift; for granting me freedom to enjoy my family and to participate in their lives; for the ability to travel freely and to continue my activities unhindered by the dialysis routine

Katie and I have been frequent speakers about our experience as donor and recipient and have had many opportunities to advise potential transplant patients, their family members and prospective donors.

I am ever grateful to Hadassah for sponsoring the Pikuah Nefesh program. Saving lives through organ donation is a crucial topic to bring to the forefront.

Thanks, Katie, for your friendship and your generous spirit!

Katie Edelstein:

Who could have predicted that when I signed the back of my first driver's license to become an organ donor that I would actually do just that, donate one of my organ's to save someone's life? If Hadassah hadn't developed the Pikuah Nefesh program, bringing the topic of organ donation to the forefront of Hadassah members, maybe past National President, June Walker, might not have appealed to the National Board of Hadassah on behalf of Belle Simon's need for a kidney donation.

Looking back over the past 10 years, my life has been abundantly filled with rewards and joys that I never could have predicted. The first miracle was celebrating the successful kidney transplant and the subsequent 10 years of good health for both Belle and me. If I had not experienced anything more than seeing the impact donating one of my kidneys has made to Belle's quality of life, that would have been enough. If I had not seen how my family, friends and interested people have reacted and changed their views on organ donation as a result of donating my kidney, that would have been enough.

Put all of these rewards together and it spells miracle. Even though I gave away an important part of my body, what I received in return far outweighed what I gave away. I chose to make a difference because it's the right thing to do. Will you?

For information on having a Pikuah Nefesh program at your unit, and for information on getting a grant for programming, please contact health@hadassah.org.

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