Meet Mitch. Mitch and I share a unique bond. Of the over 700 kidney donations ever facilitated by Renewal, Mitch and I are the only two donors that ever developed a blood clot post-surgery. His was in his leg, mine in my lungs.
I live in Atlanta and wanted to go up to NYU for a check-up. My surgeon said I didn’t have to. I said I wanted to anyway. My surgeon said OK, and after a few back and forth emails, we decided on February 6, last Thursday.
Mitch donated his kidney a year ago at NYU. He lives in Stamford, CT. But his mother was having surgery (not kidney related) at NYU earlier last week. So he spent a few days this week at NYU with his mother.
Before I went to NYU, I asked Rabbi Steinmetz, the amazing head of Renewal, if there were any patients – recipients or donors – that were recovering in NYU from a transplant who might appreciate a visit from me since I would be there anyway. He said there were none.
Mitch was in the hospital with his mother and on the first day or two of last week he went to say hello to the nurses that helped him recover after his kidney donation. On Thursday in the morning he had the idea to maybe reach out to Renewal to see if there were any recovering donors or recipients that would appreciate a visit.
Rabbi Steinmetz told him that there were no inpatients, but there is this guy who ‘happens’ to be in NYU that day for a checkup. His name is Mayer Freedman. And he is the only other Renewal donor, out of over 700 donors, that ever developed a blood clot. “Maybe the two of you want to meet.” And we did want to meet. And we did meet and shared our stories with each other.
I don’t know why G-d decided that I, Mayer Freedman, should develop a blood clot through the very action that I was doing to help someone else out. And it never bothered me that it happened. Like I told my children, for some reason G-d decided that this fellow named Mayer Freedman had to go through a painful experience. How lucky I am to be able to have fulfilled that ‘decree of pain’ through helping someone else, and not merely though a car crash, an act of antisemitism, or some other event. So though I was in pain for a bit, it never bothered me how G-d could do this to me. But if there was any doubt whatsoever in my mind that a ‘mistake’ happened, and that I really was ‘not supposed’ to get that blood clot, it was wiped out totally last Thursday.
Medically, I wasn’t supposed to be up at NYU at all. Feb 6 was chosen as a day that worked out best for my family’s schedule. I don’t even know all of the steps required that led to Mitch’s mother to have to have surgery at all, let alone at NYU, let alone last week. And there was no reason for Mitch to wait until specifically Thursday to reach out to Renewal about seeing if there were any other Renewal patients to visit. But G-d, the conductor of the world, wanted us to meet, and so he orchestrated events perfectly.
Mitch and I did not necessarily learn last Thursday why G-d wanted us to develop these blood clots at all, let alone through donating our kidneys. But through our super improbable and unlikely meeting G-d helped us not just know intellectually that this was His will, but rather feel through and through that the blood clots were all part of the master plan He had for each of us. Though we are taught and we know that G-d is guiding us every step of our way through life, when we have the opportunity to see it so clearly, it helps internalize that knowledge and bring it from our brains deep into the recesses of our hearts.