When 29-year-old Guy Dimery underwent a kidney transplant, he never imagined that just a year after the surgery in which he received his life back as a gift, he would run a marathon – and do so with the person who donated the kidney to him and saved his life.
“From the age of 25, I was under medical monitoring due to the condition of my kidneys, and a year and a half ago, it started to worsen,” he describes.
My creatinine percentage significantly increased, meaning my kidney disease worsened and my kidney function decreased. I felt horrible, tired, and very weak, and I urgently needed a kidney. This is where my amazing angel Yael Keller came into the picture. She altruistically donated a kidney to me, and thanks to her, I underwent successful surgery at Hadassah by its excellent transplant team. Yael bravely decided to donate a kidney to someone she didn’t know and help him get a new life.”
As is customary, Guy did not meet Yael before the surgery in which her kidney was transplanted into his body. “Through the Hadassah transplant coordinator, Yael sent my family and me a song by Hatikvah 6 without having met us. The song is called “What Will Be” and has accompanied us with excitement ever since.
The surgery itself was performed by the Hadassah Transplant Unit team headed by Dr. Abed Halaila, head of the team, and Dr. Ashraf Imam, together with the operating room team. “There are not enough words to thank them for successfully leading my kidney transplant surgery. I feel lucky and know that I am in the best hands.”
From the first moment after the transplant, Yael spoke to my family, even before she met me. They knew that we would connect thanks to the cynicism and wit we shared, and they were right. Today we have a fantastic relationship; we are very good friends. We occasionally meet – recently, I was with her, her husband, and her children on an ATV trip.”
From a good relationship to the marathon
“A few months ago, I met with Yael and her delightful husband and the fact that we both ran in the past, before the surgery. So, I offered a sort of challenge for both of us to run a route together,” he says with a smile.
“Truthfully, after a few months, we were running together; Yael and I were running 10 kilometers. It’s a crazy and really exciting closure,” he says excitedly. “I feel like I am consistently winning! Yael is proof that there are miracles, light, goodness, and unconditional love in the world. She is my personal miracle, a person who spreads endless giving. The marathon was terrific, and throughout the entire route, Yael spurred us on with strength and motivation.
I have always been cared for by the staff at Hadassah and always have someone to consult with, even in connection with the marathon,” says Guy. “Dr. Roi Abel from Hadassah’s Nephrology Department is an expert in kidney diseases, and beyond professionalism and the knowledge that he is always there for me, he is a very attentive person. So is Prof. Michal Elhalal Darnitzky, Head of the Nephrology Department at Hadassah, and her wonderful team.”
Dr. Abel emphasizes: “Guy suffered from advanced kidney failure that progressed to requiring kidney replacement therapy (dialysis or transplantation). Since the transplant, he has continued follow-up at the kidney transplant clinic at Hadassah. He has very good kidney function with a normal lifestyle. Fortunately, Guy lives without limitations and operates under recommendations to maintain a healthy lifestyle, avoid prolonged exposure to the sun and adhere to medication therapy. As a result, he makes good use of his condition and lives a full life similar to other people his age.”
Guy’s surgeon, Dr. Abed Halaila, head of Hadassah’s transplant unit, is also not surprised by Guy’s achievement. “We all know that kidney failure significantly impairs the patient’s quality of life, and there is no doubt that kidney transplantation improves the patient’s life and prolongs it even in relation to dialysis. We see the immediate result for Guy, who participates in the 10-kilometer run with his wonderful donor Yael, only a year after surgery – an impressive and inspiring achievement.”
Yael Keller, the kidney donor: “The first in the family to donate a kidney was my brother, and his significant move made me think about the matter and led me to the decision that I would do the same,” she says excitedly. “I am a mother of 5 children living in Tekoa. In the mornings, I work as a teacher and as an ambulance driver at night.
I started the process a few years ago. The initial tests revealed anemia, so I stopped to treat it. Then, after a year, I returned to continue. The tests took several months to complete, and during that time, I thought deeply about the big step I was taking.
Then began the important relationship with Neta – the transplant coordinator nurse at Hadassah Ein Kerem, who accompanied me throughout the process at Hadassah and served as the common thread between me and the recipient, who was anonymous to me.
All I knew was that he was a young man with a very supportive family. Only after I passed the final medical committee did I really get excited for him as well, and I dedicated a song to him that I sent him through Neta. His comments that she sent me were overwhelming and made me understand that he was sensitive and a good person. It felt like ‘chatunami’ (TV show: ‘Wedding at First Sight’). After we met, we discovered that the common denominator between us was widespread; we realized that we are both easygoing, love to laugh, and are a little cynical. It’s a solid connection for life.”