November 25, 2004
Letter to the Editor
I was not enticed to donate a kidney
Sir, - Re "Health Ministry refuses to finance expenses for US kidney donors who want to save Israelis" (November 21), let me state for the record:
I was not solicited to donate my kidney by Moshiko Sharon's family, nor by anyone in Israel or the US. HODS and Mr. Robby Berman did not solicit, induce, or entice me to donate my kidney at any time.
The HODS Web article regarding the Israel Independence Day parade in New York City merely referenced Moshiko as a 10-year-old boy in need of a kidney. It was not a solicitation, nor an advertisement asking for organ donors.
I did not seek out or request any media attention regarding my live-kidney donation. I participated in media interviews only in order to make people aware of the need for organ donors and to assist HODS in raising funds for sponsoring my altruistic donation.
I have not, to my knowledge, met with either Dr. Yitzhak Berlovich, Prof. Jonathan Halevy, or the author of your news article.
I met Moshiko Sharon for the first time two days before the surgery. Two of Moshiko's brothers had attempted to be donors, but neither was suitable. His two other brothers were exempted due to current or impending IDF service.
Instead of excluding "foreigners" (Jewish or non-Jewish), as Prof. Halevy suggests, the Israeli government should actively encourage and assist altruistic organ donors, particularly foreign ones.
For example, it could provide free or reduced airfare or subsidize accommodation at specified locations. These simple actions would reduce some of the costs incurred by foreign live-kidney donors and help lessen the chance of "black-market" activity.
Such subsidies could be provided indirectly to a native-born or foreign organ donor through existing Israeli charitable organizations like Ezer Mitzion-Oranit in Petah Tikva.
I concur with Prof. Halevy that "it is shameful for Israelis" that I, as a foreigner, had to do what a young, healthy Israeli was unwilling to do.
Why did I have to fly 18 hours to save the life of a young Israeli boy? Is it because Israeli society has become so morally bankrupt that the death of an innocent child is permissible?
I do not think so. I believe I was used by God as a positive example of selflessness and hesed to demonstrate to the Israeli people that we must love each other before we dare claim to love God.
As things currently stand, close to 100 Israelis will slowly die this year while waiting for a compatible organ donor, living or dead.
HODS has a solution to this wicked problem: fourteen American volunteers stand ready, willing, and able to give of themselves in order to save some of those precious lives.
ERIC PAUL SWIM