Following in my son's footsteps; Elaine Perlman & Abie Rohrig.
We’ve all heard about children following in their parents’ footsteps. But in this case, a mother followed in her child’s footsteps. First, a son donated his kidney to a stranger and then, six months later, a mother did the same.
Here’s their story:
One of the main parental missions is to keep our children alive. So when Elaine Perlman’s son Abie Rohrig, aged 19, turned to her and said that he was going to donate one of his spare kidneys to a stranger, her first question was, “Will you be able to live a healthy life with only one kidney?”
Abie answered his Mom’s question with another question. “Did you feel that giving birth was high risk? Did you ever check out the death rate from giving birth?”
“Well, that risk you took is just about the same level of risk I am ready to take on so that someone can be saved and get a healthy kidney.”
Abie’s response was compelling.
As Elaine learned more about the urgent need for more living kidney donors and the low risks of surgery, she became more accepting of Abie’s decision. 100,000 Americans are in desperate need of new kidneys. Eventually, Elaine told Abie that if all goes well with his experience, she would donate her kidney too.
When it was Abie’s turn for a full day of testing to find out if he qualified for kidney donation, Elaine was in the waiting room, eager to hear the details. After Abie’s donation, he offered to join Elaine on her day of testing. Both were cleared for surgery after their transplant team reviewed the test results and determined that their good health qualified them to donate.
In the summer of 2019, in between Abie’s first and second year of college, he donated at the NYU Langone Hospital in Midtown NYC. On a sunny July morning, the surgery was a success. Elaine met Abie in the recovery room after the procedure, and later that day, they both celebrated when they heard that the kidney was functioning beautifully in the recipient. A few weeks later, Abie would experience the joy of meeting the kidney’s new owner, a fellow college
student named Chris. The two of them hugged and talked on live television in a Good Morning America segment entitled, “A Young Man Meets the 19-Year-Old Kidney Donor Who Saved His Life”, (or view below).
Six months after Abie’s surgery in January of 2020, Elaine donated in the same hospital, initiating a National Kidney Registry organized kidney chain that resulted in four people receiving kidneys in Georgia, Oklahoma, and Washington state.
Since their donations, both Abie and Elaine have become advocates for living kidney donation. Abie has written about kidney donation for the British Medical Journal. Elaine leads the meetings of the Global One Kidney Clubs. In addition, she founded the NYC One Kidney Club, the Vegan Kidney Donors group, and Kidneys for Strangers. She truly enjoys being a kidney mentor for the National Kidney Donation Organization, an opportunity to support those in the process of donating their kidneys to family members, friends, and strangers.
Both Elaine and Abie believe that donating was one of their life’s best decisions. Through their kidney gifts, a total of five people who had been on dialysis are now living better lives with healthy kidneys. As Abie and Elaine continue to advocate, they are happy to have the opportunity to encourage people to give the gift of life through the generosity of living kidney donation.