The Talmud says that to save one life is to save the entire world. The act involved in preserving life can be great or small, but the ultimate dedication is the giving one one’s self, even flesh and blood to aid another. It requires tremendous courage and sacrifice to undergo surgery to donate a kidney for a person one has never met, and yet Rabbi Mendy Mathless, Chabad shliach in Albany, New York, donated a kidney to an Israeli man, Yisrael Konstantini, even though neither had met.
Yisroel Konstantini of Netanya had been battling severe kidney problems for years, but nothing seemed to help. He had to endure uncomfortable dialysis treatments several times a week while the desperate search was on for a kidney donor in Israel. While initially his sister seemed a likely donor, the plans did not work out, and soon the search for a matching kidney was resumed. The situation was becoming dire, and while hope wasn’t yet lost, the prayers become more fervent for a solution to Yisroel’s dire situation, as the waiting seemed more painful than any surgery.
Rabbi Avrohom Lider, head of Ahavas Chesed in Brooklyn contacted Yisroel Konstantini from half a world away and invited him to come to New York. Meanwhile, Rabbi Lider embarked on an aggressive publicity campaign in search of a kidney for the Israeli, who had been searching for a solution to his health problems for 14 years.
Rabbi Mendy Mathless has just begun his post as shliach in Albany before Rosh Hashana, and took over a shiur for his father-in-law. Mathless had mourned the passing of his sister-in-law in England just a month earlier. The topic of the shiur was medical ethics, and the conversation turned to kidney donation, when Rabbi Mathless decided he would dedicate himself to the ultimate mitzvah and donate a kidney.
Enduring the pain and uncertainty of surgery, although aware that kidney donation is a quite safe procedure, Rabbi Mathless donated his kidney to Yisorel Konstantini. The two embraced after their surgeries, which took place at the same time, at the same hospital. The two met and embraced after the surgery was over.
“I explained that he’s a brother,” Mathless told Chabad.org, “We don’t know each other, but we’re part of a whole.” Two weeks later, the families prepared a meal thanking G-d for the miracle of the kidney donation and for Yisroel’s new lease on life.