Ikey Rudy donated his kidney last month through Renewal, one of Daily Giving’s newest beneficiaries. Ikey, father of three, was a match for a man who had already given to his family for generations.

Here’s Ikey’s story.

How it happened

Ikey first got involved with Renewal when a high school friend’s wife needed a kidney transplant. Renewal strives to match those with kidney disease to a donor, expediting kidney transplants—especially since those in need could remain on a waiting list for years.

Ikey was not a kidney match for his friend’s wife, but his information remained in Renewal’s registry system. A few years later, Renewal called him to tell him he was a match for his great-grandmother’s first cousin.

This was huge news for Ikey, because it meant a generational story could come full circle.

The generational story

Around sixty years ago, Ikey’s great-grandmother waited for her cousin Raymond to arrive in America. She stood on the shore of the port until he arrived, welcoming him into her home and helping him transition from life in Israel to his new American life.

Fast forward many years: Ikey spent many summers with Raymond in his home with Raymond’s grandkids. They had a strong and close bond throughout Ikey’s teenage years and young adulthood.

“He was like my grandfather, taking me fishing and on trips,” Ikey said.

Unfortunately, Raymond was recently diagnosed with kidney complications. He needed a transplant. Renewal jumped in to start looking for a match.

That’s when Ikey received the life-changing phone call from Renewal. 

He was the match.

The decision to donate

Two weeks after that phone call, Ikey began preparations at the hospital to make sure he was healthy enough for the donation. Meanwhile, Raymond was undergoing heart surgery to make sure he was physically fit for his kidney transplant.

Raymond didn’t yet know that his donor was in his own family.

“If I could help someone like this who is my family, someone who has taken care of me throughout my life… It was a no-brainer,” Ikey said. “I never saw my kidney or felt my kidney. I felt like my sacrifice was the recovery and not the kidney itself.”

Two days after Ikey’s and Raymond’s surgeries, Ikey went to Raymond’s room. The pivotal moment was finally here. He would reveal that he was, in fact, Raymond’s kidney donor.

“He was very emotional,” Ikey said. “It was an incredible moment when he realized where the kidney had come from.” 

Ikey said that his recovery was difficult, but he wouldn’t have been able to do it without the strength and support of his amazing wife. After a long journey, he is fully recovered.

“When it comes to giving tzedaka, I don’t look at the money as mine. It’s Hashem’s,” Ikey said. “The same thing with my kidney. Hashem gave me two kidneys so that I could give one. That’s the attitude He wants us to have.”

The future of giving

Ikey believes that with organizations like Renewal, the younger generation will feel empowered and inspired to give. He says that Daily Giving’s support is instrumental to Renewal’s growth.

“This was how I could give back after the years he spent taking care of me—by taking care of him,” Ikey said.

In 2023 alone, Daily Giving donations will help save at least four lives.

Renewal’s team is now working to be the first registry to arrange and perform overseas kidney swaps in which the donated organ is shipped to the recipient’s location.

Today, almost every major transplant center in the country reaches out to Renewal for information, support, and the kinds of services it provides. 

Ikey currently lives in Brooklyn with his wife and three children.