Saving one life is akin to saving an entire world


Our sages teach that saving one life is akin to saving an entire world. The COVID-19 pandemic is a brutal reminder of the fragility of life. I recently saw a post, saying, “Save a life, you’re a hero. Save one hundred lives, you’re a nurse.” While many of us are not first responders, doctors or nurses, we can still save lives through kidney donation. 
On May 21, 2007, I donated a kidney to a dear friend. I went through extensive testing. I engaged in medical and Jewish learning, got into great shape, regularly saw a naturopath, acupuncturist and therapist, along with the transplant team. I completed an estate plan with great intention and thought. 
I involved my children throughout the process. They made memorable contributions – my younger son asked if the surgeon could also remove my mobile device. My daughter mused about writing a book for children about kidney donation. My older son told me, “Dad, if you ever need a kidney, I’ve got your back.” 
My “former” kidney transitioned perfectly and immediately into my friend’s body. I was home from the hospital in a few days, was quickly off pain killers and was walking, eating and sleeping comfortably almost immediately. I reengaged in my family law practice two weeks later and carefully resumed other activities. Thirteen years later, I see a nephrologist twice a year – my only real sacrifices were giving up Advil and white water kayaking. That’s it. 
Mitzvot, acts of good will, can uplift individuals and community. Following the surgery, many friends and community members helped our families in so many ways. Charity was given in our honor to synagogues and institutions. Two years later, my friend’s wife asked if she could set me up with someone. That blind date is now my wife.  
Mitzvot can inspire others to do mitzvot.  Just after the surgery, the Lake Oswego newspaper reported that a local woman needed a kidney. A fellow church goer showed her a piece in the Oregonian about a guy in Portland who donated a kidney to a friend and fellow synagogue member. A plea was made to the church, a congregant stepped up, donated a kidney and saved the woman’s life. 
We live in an age of unfortunate divisiveness.  In donating or receiving a kidney, the human body cares not about gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, economic status or political leanings. Being a match, donating and receiving, is about an organic merger of one human to another. The club is a human club, one life to another.
I am available to speak with anyone interested in donating. Approximately 100,000 people nationwide and 600 people in Oregon need a kidney. And, please visit the Donate Life NW website:
Following the surgery, our rabbi wrote a piece in our synagogue bulletin.  It often comes to mind as I move through the blessings and challenges of my life. His message was that while my donation would add days to my friend’s life, it would also add life to my days. It has. 

Marshal Spector is a family law attorney with Gevurtz Menashe. 
As part of giving back during this difficult time, his firm is offering complimentary basic will packages for frontline first responders in our community. If you are interested or know anyone who may benefit, please visit


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