Give and Take

Last year, Beverley Benia-Herzig traveled to Poland for a tour of Jewish heritage sites and came home inspired. Learning about the communities that had been destroyed and the lives that had been stolen had a deep impact on her. She resolved that in their memory, she would save a life.

Back home in Toronto, she began to explore the process of donating a kidney to a Jewish person in need, and thus began a long medical journey.

Not everyone who wants to donate a kidney will merit to do so. In fact, only 50 percent of potential donors will end up qualifying. But Bev, as she is known to family and friends, was eventually deemed a perfect candidate. After a year of tests and monitoring, she was finally cleared to donate her kidney.

Soon a match was found, a patient who had been on the waiting list for a while. The pair were deemed compatible and healthy enough for the transplant, and they were given a surgery date at a local hospital. Bev and the recipient eagerly awaited the momentous occasion.

The day came closer and closer. A few weeks before the surgery, Bev visited the hospital for some routine last-minute testing to confirm that everything was ready to go. But the results were anything but routine. Bev’s doctor called and asked to meet with her and review his findings.

She drove to the hospital apprehensively and sat across from him as he laid out the test results. “Mrs. Herzig,” he said, “you won the lottery.”

The lottery, in this case, was a mass in the kidney she had been meant to donate; it had gone unnoticed until it was picked up on the final scan. The transplant would have to be canceled, but luckily for Bev, they had caught the abnormality early on, so treatment could begin immediately. Did she have any questions?

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