Modest Swimsuit Designer Donates Kidney to Stranger
Over 82,000 people in the USA alone are currently waiting for a kidney transplants. And, on average, thousands of these people awaiting transplants will die every year waiting for a life-saving kidney. The following is the extraordinary story of Jerusalem JewishMOM Marci Rapp (founder of Marsea Modest Swimwear) who heard these statistics, and decided to donate a kidney a month ago in order to save the life of Shulamit, a fellow Jewish mother she had never even met before she applied to become a donor.
“I know I’m Doing the Right Thing” by Shlomi Buchnik (this article, written before the transplant, originally appeared in the Kol Katamon newspaper. Thanks to Hadas Melamed for sending me this article!)
Even today, 9 months after receiving an e-mail from a woman named Chaya Lipschutz, who asked her to consider donating a kindey to a 42-year-old mother of nine, Marci Rapp still doesn’t know what led her to glance at the form and fill it out. “When I first read the e-mail I didn’t think I would do something about it. I knew that bureaucratically this was a complex process. Yet even so, I decided to fill out the form because of the tremendous mitzvah involved.”
Rapp then had to undergo a compatibility test, which matched her with the woman’s sister- a 48-year-old mother of six named Shulamit [a religious mother from a settlement in the Binyamin region]. “This is a critical situation- the woman is in immediate danger and must undergo transplant surgery immediately.”
[“Shulamit suffers from a rare disorder that caused her kidneys to fail when she was only in her forties. As a result of her kidney failure, Shulamit has breathing problems and needs to receive 4 hours of dialysis 3 times a week. These long treatments require Shulamit to leave her children behind for many hours a week and leave her feeling weak and exhausted.”]
Marci has since been praying daily for the future recipient, Shulamit. “Sometimes treatment can be postponed, but not in this case,” she explains.
Rapp’s interest in transplants was sparked last summer, after she read an article by Lori Palatnik about “The Kidney Mitzvah” Organization, which matches donors and recipients. She had also witnessed Leah Golomb, a Torah teacher whose classes she attends, fly to South Africa to undergo a kidney transplant that cost her $100,000. “Leah’s story really touched my heart… and I started thinking that the issue of kidney donations must be promoted in Israel. Soon after, I began thinking about the issue very seriously.”
Rapp, a devoutly religious woman, had to obtain a halachic permit to ensure that donating a kidney is supported halachically. “This is a very important mitzvah that we can do with our bodies, and it does not involve pikuach nefesh,” she clarifies. “On the contrary, all the rabbis I spoke to are members of the “Kidney Mitzvah” organization.”
Following the medical testing she underwent, Rapp’s family members realized that this was not just a passing phase. “Some of my children were very supportive of my idea, and others expressed concern about the possible damage to my health. In addition to worrying about my health, my husband worried about the future of our business, and hoped that the surgery would take place when things were calmer. I’m glad he didn’t veto my decision.
What was your physician’s opinion?
…My doctor seemed pleased with my decision and determined that there was no reason not to donate.”
In addition to the fact that this is an amazing act of kindness, Rapp will be undergoing surgery [in June] during the busiest time of the year for her business. The model inventory has increased lately, and the business Rapp created due to the lack of modest swimwear for religious women has gained momentum and become quite successful. [“When we made aliya, I discovered that Israel is blessed with 9 months a year of summer weather, but religious women like me had nothing modest to wear to the beach.”]
Naturally, summer is the busiest time of year for the modest swimwear business, run by Marci and her husband Harold. The Rapp family hoped that the surgery would take place during April-May, so that the business would not suffer. “We were hoping that it would work out that way, but the surgery was stalling…
What will happen with the business during this time?
“I trust in Hashem to provide parnassah during my recovery. Also, if everything goes well, after a relatively short time I will be able to resume my work on the computer. This won’t cover everything, but that way I won’t be completely our of commission.”…
Marci, 57, emigrated from Canada with her family three years ago…[The Rapps’ 3 sons had all come to Israel to study in yeshiva for a year, served in the Israeli Army’s Nachal HaCharedi, and then made aliya. After attending their son’s wedding in Israel, the Rapps decided to make aliya with their daughter. On the day that they made aliya, their youngest son was lightly wounded when a bus he was taking to meet his parents was attacked by a terrorist driving a bulldozer. When Israel National News contacted the Rapps to ask if they regretted making Aliyah, Marci answered unhesitatingly: “Israel is my home and no terrorist attack can scare me!”]…
Aren’t you worried about remaining with only one kidney after the surgery?
“I’m not worried. All the studies done until today have proven unequivocally that the quality of life of a donor is not harmed. I believe that with Hashem’s help, I will be able to live a full and happy life with one kidney.”
CJW writes: After reading this Kol Katamon article written before her surgery, I contacted Marci Rapp to ask her a few more questions about the transplant, which took place last month:
How did you feel as you entered the hospital to donate your kidney? I WONDERED HOW I SHOULD BE FEELING AS I ENTERED THE HOSPITAL. I WASNT SICK, BUT I WASN’T JOYFUL AS I WOULD BE IF I WAS GOING IN TO GIVE BIRTH… THE MOTHER OF MY RECIPIENT TOLD ME THAT IN FACT I WAS GIVING BIRTH TO HER DAUGHTER; I WAS GIVING HER A NEW LIFE!!
What was the most positive aspect of the donation process? I THINK THE AMAZING COMMENTS I’VE RECEIVED AND THE CHESED I’VE ENCOUNTERED, AND THE AMAZING PEOPLE I’VE MET THROUGHOUT THIS PROCESS AND THE HASHGACHA PRATIT I’VE EXPERIENCED THROUGHOUT. MEETING THE RECIPIENT AND HER FAMILY HAS CHANGED MY LIFE. AND SEEING HER BECOMING HEALTHY AND VITAL WITHOUT DIALYSIS IS SO TOTALLY GRATIFYING. TO FEEL A PART OF HASHEM’S PLAN IN PROLONGING THIS WOMAN’S LIFE IS TRULY AWESOME.
What has been the hardest aspect of the donation process? HAVING TO RELY ON THE RECIPIENT’S FAMILY TO ASSIST ME THROUGH THE BUREAUCRACY AND MEDICAL PREPARATIONS REQUIRED BEFORE THE TRANSPLANT BECAUSE OF MY LACK OF HEBREW. ALSO THE ANXIETY OF NOT KNOWING WHEN THE SURGERY WAS FINALLY GOING TO OCCUR. THE PAIN WAS BEARABLE AND NOT WORTH MENTIONING IN THE LARGER SCHEME OF THINGS.
Most people hear about the suffering of strangers, and feel a bit bad, but do nothing to help. What/who influenced you to become the kind of person who would go so above and beyond to do kindness for a stranger? AS MENTIONED ABOVE, I WAS INFLUENCED BY LEAH GOLOMB, LORI PALATNIK AND CHAYA LIPSHUTZ OF KIDNEYMITZVAH.COM. GOING FURTHER BACK, I’M NOT SURE WHY I WAS INTERESTED WHEREAS OTHER PEOPLE I’VE SPOKEN TO REACT BY SAYING THEY’D BE TOO SCARED TO DONATE A KIDNEY. I FEEL I WAS GUIDED TO DO THIS. I KNOW IT WAS THE RIGHT THING TO DO.
Would you encourage other Jewish mothers to donate kidneys? YES!!
I WAS FORTUNATE TO DONATE MY KIDNEY TO A WOMAN WHO, LIKE ME, IS RELIGIOUS AND CANADIAN. WE HAVE AN AMAZING RELATIONSHIP AND ARE NOW VERY CLOSE. I THINK IT IS IMPORTANT TO SPEAK THE SAME LANGUAGE AS YOUR RECIPIENT.
I THINK DONATING A KIDNEY TO SAVE A LIFE IS LIKE MAKING ALIYA, IT IS SIMPLY THE RIGHT THING TO DO.
AND I THINK EVERY WOMAN KNOWS IF AND WHEN IT’S THE RIGHT TIME FOR HER TO TAKE ON SUCH MITZVOT.
Click here to learn more about Marsea Modest Swimwear
Ramat Shilo: Sara Rapp 054-614-8817
RBS: Talia Goldwag: 054-842-1979
Beitar Illit: ChayaDina Blalock 052-768-2325
Telstone: Rochel Leah Rapoport: 052-363-5460
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