BERLIN – When Ilene Silverman reached out to members of her congregation at Temple Bat Yam for a kidney, Rachel White responded.
“She was a stranger to me and that’s how we met,” Silverman said. “Nobody could believe it.”
Since learning of her kidney disease two years ago, Silverman said she has been placed on multiple waiting lists at different hospitals.
Silverman, a Washington, D.C., native and part-time resident to the area, said she enlisted the help of friend Carole Eagle to place a letter in her temple’s bulletin.
White, a Salisbury resident, said she had received a letter from her temple in January with Silverman’s request.
White, whose own mother passed away from kidney disease, decided to complete a donor questionnaire and reach out to Silverman.
“My mother had passed away from complications from kidney disease,” White said. “It made me feel bad that someone else would have to go through dialysis. I thought if I could help, then why not.”
While the request is rare, Temple Bat Yam’s Rabbi Susan Warshaw said it was not the first time somebody has sought a kidney donor through the temple.
“A few years ago someone else needed a kidney, but nothing came of it,” she said. “It was one of those things.”
Warshaw said White’s generosity displays Jewish values and beliefs.
“It was a very Jewish thing to do,” she said, “to support life and to give to others.”
White said she underwent a series of tests, MRIs, evaluations and meetings with the nephrologist and surgeon at Medstar Georgetown Transplant Institute in Washington, D.C., where the surgery took place, before she was considered a definite match.
White and Silverman, who had conversed through emails to share news, tests results and updates, met for the first time in April.
“When we met, I started crying,” Silverman said.
The transplant process took place June 13 and was part of a pair exchange. White’s kidney was given to a recipient in Minnesota, a donor’s kidney in Minnesota was donated to a recipient in Colorado and a 25-year-old kidney from Colorado was given to Silverman.
“It was a cool thing to do where multiple people could get help the same day,” White said.
Though Silverman experienced a few setbacks following the surgery, both she and White are making a full recovery.
“It’s an amazing story,” Silverman said.
White said she hopes her story will be an inspiration for others considering donating a kidney.
“I feel blessed that I was able to help somebody,” she said. “It was nice to do something for somebody else, to give and not expect to get anything in return.”
Silverman thanked White for her selflessness.
“Not only did she save my life, but she saved me time and convenience,” Silverman said. “I have her to thank for my life. She is an angel from God. There’s no other way to describe it. I’m a lucky and blessed person.”