Woman donates kidney to total stranger thanks to lifesaving matchmaker

ByDarla Miles Localish logo
Thursday, February 9, 2023
Woman donates kidney to total stranger thanks to lifesaving matchmaker
"It's a mitzvah, a good deed. I'm into mitzvahs," said the founder of Kidney Mitzvah, who specializes in making lifesaving connections between ailing patients and donors.

NEW YORK -- A Brooklyn woman is alive thanks to the help of a total stranger from Maryland.

Liza Porat lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, and saw a post on a community board that said a 41-year-old woman in New York needed a kidney.

The mother of five had the chance to meet the recipient days after the successful transplant surgery last October at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.

"When she walked into the room after the surgery, my tears started to run down my face," kidney recipient Marianna Ilyasov said.

"She was very emotional, telling me I was her angel," Porat said. "I was emotional, but I didn't want her to be more emotional. And I didn't want someone to feel as though, oh, she owes me her life because perhaps I saved hers."

It was a noble sentiment preceded by an act of selflessness.

"I was looking for a kidney every day," Ilyasov said. "No one from the family offered the kidney, but the stranger from a different state, anyone would be shocked."

Ilyasov was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2015 and felt fine for several years, but in November 2021, her condition worsened.

"After every dialysis I would end up in the hospital with severe headaches, with vomiting, with high fever," she said.

"My best friend from childhood was the recipient of a kidney, so, I was actually going to donate to a charity to in her honor," Porat said. "I saw Chaya's notice said please, if somebody, please help me save a life, desperate need of a kidney donor, type A blood."

That ad was placed on a small Jewish list that serves around the country by Chaya Lipschutz.

"It's a mitzvah, a good deed, I'm into mitzvahs, Jewish people are into mitzvahs, religious people," Lipschutz said. "I feel for anyone who contacts me, race, religion, it doesn't matter."

Lipschutz started Kidney Mitzvah in 2005 as a grassroots effort to match potential donors with weary patients after she herself donated a kidney to a stranger.

"I said, I gotta help these other people, I only saved one life, I said who's going to help all these other people," Lipschutz said.

"Since day one, was praying to God, Ilyasov said. "I was waking up three, four o'clock in the morning crying to God."

Now Porat and Ilyasov are both healthy and grateful for the chance encounter that brought the two strangers into each other's lives.

"People say why are you doing this, it's a stranger, it's still a human being," Porat said. "If you're willing to be a recipient, you should be willing to be a donor."