It’s been nearly a year since Ira Tedoff received a kidney transplant. After two donors fell through, he considered dialysis. But a conversation with a friend’s relative soon gave him another chance at life.
The AJT first learned about Tedoff’s dilemma in spring 2017 during a Renewal gathering at Young Israel of Toco Hills to share stories of people who need and who have donated kidneys. The nonprofit helps people by connecting them to organ donors for kidney transplants.
It was at that event that Tedoff first expressed how humbling the experience was to ask for a kidney. But after he received a call from a friend’s relative regarding a kidney donation, Tedoff’s outlook began to change. The relative knew someone whose daughter was on life-support and wanted to know if her kidney should be earmarked for Tedoff.
Tedoff agreed, and on August 15, 2017, he had a kidney transplant at Piedmont Hospital. The organ was airlifted to Piedmont from Pennsylvania and was a perfect match doctors told Tedoff, because it belonged to a healthy female athlete in her early 30s.
Once the surgery was completed, Tedoff remained in the hospital for three days before he began recovery. He initially started on a liquid diet but was almost immediately out of bed with the help of pain medication to ease the discomfort from the incision site.
While recovering, Tedoff also got help from friends and community members, including Atlanta Scholars Kollel Rabbi Mayer Freedman. Freedman would often visit Tedoff and arranged meals to be delivered to his house every night.
“We tried being helpful where we could, whether it was watching the children or preparing meal trains,” Freedman said. “I think our job in this world is to help take care of each other. Sometimes we are on the giver’s end and should help others and sometimes we are on the receiver’s end and that is part of the back and forth of assisting. Our job is to help out in every way we can.”
What Tedoff doesn’t know is that Freedman also tried to donate his kidney through Renewal. But by the time Freedman reached out to Renewal, Tedoff had already found a match. Before Tedoff was matched with a donor he was scheduled to receive a kidney through Renewal, but after learning of Tedoff’s story the organization donated the organ to another recipient.
Tedoff is not in direct contact with the family whose relative donated the kidney, but he said he hears about them through his friend’s relative and hopes to eventually get in touch with them when the time is right. “We felt we should wait a year and allow the family to mourn the loss of their daughter before we contact them,” he said. Because the family wants to protect its privacy, the AJT is unable to share information about the kidney donor.
Tedoff advises people who are in need of a kidney transplant to contact Renewal and to look for as many options as they can. “Don’t give up; you certainly never know when it’s going to happen,” he said.
He also noted how thankful he is for the recent transplant. “Words can’t even describe it. I am very grateful. It’s a lease on life and a wonderful feeling. The family feels great and I feel great,” Tedoff said.
Chabad Intown Rabbi Eliyahu Schusterman has been proactive in bringing attention to kidney transplants with support from community partners: Ahavath Achim Synagogue, Congregation Bet Haverim, Congregation Shearith Israel, Young Israel of Toco Hills, The Temple, Congregation Beth Shalom and Congregation Or Hadash.
He said, “A kidney transplant or donation is life-saving and is very much a Jewish value. As the saying goes: If you save a life, you save the world. So being able to help, even though I don’t think I have done much, I am grateful I did my part. I am thrilled for Ira and happy for his wife and children who will have a long life and many more years to celebrate wonderful milestones together.”