For most, the notion of serving as a living donor – that is offering one’s internal organs to those in need – is a daunting prospect; a sacrifice few would make unless absolutely required by a loved one.
But one Brooklyn woman not only took the plunge, she literally reshaped her life to qualify as a donor – all to give up one of her kidneys to a total stranger.
Hindy Messinger, a 41-year old mother of three and grandmother of two from Borough Park spent five years preparing herself to meet the requirements to serve as a living donor, including losing 75 pounds (34 kilograms).
“The whole time I was losing weight, my thoughts were to give a kidney,” said Messinger.
“Six months after I lost my weight I called Cornell [Medical Center]. ‘So I’m gonna be able to donate a kidney now? Will I be able to donate a kidney?’ They said ‘no, not yet.’ I wanted to donate a kidney already. This is why I’m doing this.”
Even after her amazing weight loss, Messinger was required to wait 12 months ensure that her overall health permitted the surgery.
When Messinger began the process, she had intended to give her kidney to a cousin in need of a donor.
“She called me one day crying on the phone and she tells me ‘I have a kidney problem, and I would like you to help me call Renewal [donor organization]”.
“It made my heart ache seeing her on dialysis. After that she was like a zombie. I couldn’t see this.”
“I wanted to save her so badly, but I couldn’t.”
Five years later, however, Messinger fulfilled the requirements to donate, even though her cousin no longer required the donation. Instead, she gave her kidney to Barry Bichler, a man she had never met before the operation.