About this book
If you had the power to save a life, would you do it? If you knew you could save the life of someone who would surely die without a kidney transplant, would you give them one of yours? These are the questions that burned in Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz. He had that power, that knowledge. Could he go through with the surgery to donate a kidney to someone who desperately needed it? The more he considered it, the less he could imagine not donating.
The Five-Ounce Gift charts Rabbi Yanklowitz’s journey of research, reflection, and commitment to honoring the call to action in Pirke Avot — Ethics of our Fathers: “It is not your duty to finish the work, but neither are you at liberty to neglect it.”
Rabbi Yanklowitz could not refuse the call to help someone in need if it was in his power to do so. Walk with him as he wrestles with the personal, spiritual, religious, and ethical aspects of becoming a living kidney donor, and as he shows you a way to consider the same path for yourself.
Every day in the U.S., a dozen people waiting for a kidney transplant die for lack of a donor; that’s about 5,000 people a year. Of the almost 100,000 people on the kidney transplant waiting list, only about 20,000 get a transplant — most often from a deceased organ donor. The rest are still waiting…some on dialysis…all of them running out of time.
“I commend Rabbi Yanklowitz on his advocacy and education work to save lives.”
—The Honorable Madeleine Albright, United States Secretary of State (1997-2001)
“This is more than an extraordinary book; it is a proposal that could change the world. It is more than a remarkable memoir; it is a true inspiration. It is more than a superb work of scholarship; it transforms a theoretical idea into a lifesaving strategy. Rabbi Yanklowitz is an exceptional person with a stunningly beautiful vision. You will never forget this book.”
—Rabbi Arthur Kurzweil
“The notion of separating oneself from a body part is difficult to understand, and even more so when the recipient is a stranger. I was moved by Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz’s selfless act of donating a kidney and found his reasoning to do so fascinating. This book is a wonderful collection of spiritual and personal writings about the transformational power of giving back to others who are in their most vulnerable hours. A powerful read.”
—Rabbi Dr. Daniel Sperber
“I respect Rabbi Shmuly’s kidney donation so much and applaud his tireless advocacy.”
—U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren
“I’m inspired by Rabbi Yanklowitz’s selfless act of donating a kidney to a total stranger. It tells us a lot about the moral character of a life dedicated to Jewish ethics and values.”
“Rabbi Yanklowitz’s writings about organ donation and Jewish philosophy made me step back and consider the universal impact of human actions. With a single act, a person can indeed change the world.”
“Consistent with morals and Jewish law, organ donation is a big mitzvah. It’s a way to continue life even as your soul leaves the Earth. I support Rabbi Yanklowitz’s teaching and writing on this topic. Thank you for donating your kidney.”
—U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman
“The ultimate Mitzvah is to give of oneself. In the case of living kidney donation, one is literally giving a part of oneself to enhance the life of another. The work to educate people about the critical need for kidney donation and the action they can take to save another is truly inspirational.”
—Dr. Yolanda Tai Becker (University of Chicago Professor of Surgery & Director of Kidney and Pancreas Transplant; Past President of UNOS: United Network for Organ Sharing)
For those considering donation, please feel free to reach out to me directly:
Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz:
Mission: To save lives by increasing organ donations from Jews to the general population (Jews and non-Jews alike).
Mission: Renewal saves lives by helping facilitate kidney transplants for those suffering with chronic kidney disease. We provide guidance and support to help patients and their families navigate all the medical challenges of coping with their condition.
Mission: Matnat Chayim is an Israeli nonprofit dedicated to encouraging healthy volunteers to donate kidneys to patients who require a transplant. None of our kidney donors receive monetary compensation for their donation and most are altruistic donors who do not know their recipients prior to the procedure.
Outside of Israel: 972-547-612-103
Kidney MatchMaker! Chaya Lipschutz, working collaboratively and tirelessly to save lives.
National Kidney Foundation:
Mission: The National Kidney Foundation is the leading organization in the U.S. dedicated to the awareness, prevention and treatment of kidney disease for hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals, millions of patients and their families, and tens of millions of Americans at risk.
American Kidney Fund:
Mission: To help people fight kidney disease and live healthier lives. We fulfill that mission by providing a complete spectrum of programs and services: prevention activities, top-rated health educational resources, and direct financial assistance enabling low-income U.S. dialysis and transplant patients to access lifesaving medical care.
National Kidney Registry:
Mission: The mission of the NKR is to save and improve the lives of people facing kidney failure by increasing the quality, speed and number of living donor transplants in the world as well as protecting all living kidney donors.
United Network of Organ Sharing:
Mission: Unite and strengthen the donation and transplant community to save lives.
Donate Life America:
Mission: To increase the number of donated organs, eyes, and tissues available to save and heal lives through transplantation while developing a culture where donation is embraced as a fundamental human responsibility.
American Transplant Foundation:
Mission: to save lives by reducing the growing list of women, men, and children who are waiting for a transplant.
Even Superheroes Need Help Sometimes
Living Kidney Donors Network:
Mission: To educate people in need of a kidney transplant about living donation and to prepare them to effectively communicate their need to family members and friends.
American Society of Transplantation:
Mission: An organization dedicated to advancing the field of transplantation and improving patient care by promoting research, education, advocacy, organ donation, and service to the community.
Southwest Transplant Alliance:
Mission: To save lives through organ and tissue donation and transplantation.
Transplant First Academy:
Mission: To inspire a life-saving alternative to our nation’s life-threatening wait for a kidney.
Reach Kidney Care:
Mission: To improve the health of all people with kidney disease every day.
The Living Bank:
Mission: To advance living organ donation to confront the shortage of organs needed for life-saving transplants.
National Living Donor Assistance Center:
Mission: To reduce the financial disincentives to living organ donation.
Alliance for Paired Kidney Donation:
Mission: To save lives by securing a living donor kidney transplant for every patient who needs one.
Kidney Donation Online Discussion Forums
Some Facebook Groups:
Living Donor Support Group-only donors & those considering donation
Kidney Support: Dialysis, Transplants, Donors and Recipients
Living Kidney Donors Support Group
Kidney Transplant Recipients & Donors
Living Donors Online!
Organ Transplant – Living Donor Awareness Group
Living Kidney Donors Network
Kidney Donor Conversations
Living kidney donors
Other Online Groups:
Living Donors Online: https://livingdonorsonline.org/ldosmf/index.php
NKF Peers: https://www.kidney.org/patients/peers
Organ Transplant Support: https://www.organtransplantsupport.org/
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: My Story
Chapter 2: The Mitzvah to Save a Life
Chapter 3: Jewish Ethics
Chapter 4: Spirituality
Chapter 5: Medical Dimensions
Chapter 6: Advocacy
Chapter 7: Stories from other Rabbis and Jewish Educators (written in their own voice)
Chapter 8: Interviews
Chapter 9: A recipient’s story
Chapter 10: About Organizations in the Field