Shalom Life | January 31, 2015

Save a Life, Make a Friend for Life

Former Torontonian and current inspirational speaker Lori Palatnik will speak tonight about her experience donating a kidney to a complete stranger.

By: Elad Benari

Published: December 15th, 2009 in News » World

Save a Life, Make a Friend for Life

Jewish educator and author Lori Palatnik will speak this evening, December 15, at 8pm at Aish Hatorah in Thornhill, in order to raise awareness about kidney donations.

Lori, who currently lives in Washington, DC, is a native Torontonian, having been born and raised here. She studied at the University of Windsor, majoring in communications and subsequently worked in radio. She eventually made her way to Israel where she became deeply inspired by the Jewish tradition and became more religious. Lori was one of the founders of the Village Shul in Toronto, which in fact started in her own home. She met and married Rabbi Yaakov Palatnik, currently the executive director of Aish Hatorah in Washington, DC. Lori has lectured and written books illuminating traditional practices in the contemporary world. She is currently the Director of The Jewish Women's Renaissance Project, a project that inspires women all over the world to embrace their heritage. She has a video blog called Lori Almost Live which can be found on aish.com.

About three years ago, a family friend in Denver was in need of a kidney transplant and none of his family or friends were a match. It was this incident that caused Lori to begin to do research on kidney donations. She realized that she was a very good candidate to donate a kidney. Ultimately she could not donate her kidney to the friend, but she continued to search for a person to which she could donate a kidney. She became a candidate to be an altruistic donor, who is a person with no connection to the recipient.

After a series of tests, a recipient was found. The transplant was scheduled for two weeks later in New York. Right before the surgery, Lori was able to speak to the recipient by phone and even meet her when she arrived in New York. These meetings and conversations strengthened her feelings that she was doing the absolute right thing. Today, three years after donating her kidney, she still keeps in touch with the recipient. They have become friends for life.

Why give your kidney to someone you don’t even know? As Lori herself put it in a personal article she wrote about her experience: “How can I not give away my kidney, just because it's for someone I don't know? Somebody knows them. They are someone's wife, sister, friend and daughter."

The event this evening is taking place in order to raise awareness about donating kidneys and was initiated by friends of a young person in the Jewish community in Toronto who is in need of a kidney and is currently on dialysis. None of this person’s immediate family members is a viable donor option due to pre-existing medical conditions they each have. A person must be in good health to even be permitted to get tested as a potential donor.

Dialysis is a life support machine that performs kidney replacement therapy for people with renal failure by cleaning toxins from the bloodstream and by removing excess body fluids. It can only sustain a person for five to seven years and is not a cure. In fact, dialysis destroys a person’s immune system. The best cure is a transplant from a living donor, which has a 90 to 95 percent rate of success.

If you wish to donate or would like more information, Renewal is an organization that acts as a comprehensive resource for kidney donors and recipients within the Jewish community. The organization works with the support of rabbis. As Lori’s rabbi explained to her husband when he had doubts about her donating a kidney, saving a life is very important in Judaism, and he should support her 100%.

Renewal’s website is located at www.life-renewal.org. They have a branch in Toronto.

Lori Palatnik will speak tonight, December 15 at 8pm at Aish Hatorah on 949 Clark Ave. W., Thornhill. If you have ever thought of donating a kidney, her inspiring story will undoubtedly move you to take that next step.

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