Skip to comments.An ‘Angel’ From Alabama
Posted on 07/04/2008 11:52:56 AM PDT by Alouette
For Marisa Hester, a Pentecostal Christian from Prattville, Ala., choosing an outfit for an ultra-Orthodox Crown Heights wedding wasnt easy. Sorting through her two sets of formalwear, she eventually opted for a knee-length floral skirt and a high-necked black chiffon blouse, embellished with sparkling beads.
She worried, however, that her slightly sheer sleeves were too revealing and would insult her newfound family. But at the June 24 wedding, the bride and her relatives could not have been less offended.
A year ago, Hester, 26, gave an invaluable gift to the brides father, Hershey Fellig, 47, whose struggle she had read about on an e-mail list-serve. With the slice of a scalpel, Hester gave Fellig a perfect stranger her kidney, thereby saving his life.
It took someone from Alabama who never met a Jew to come to my rescue, Fellig said. There are only a few people out there who do reach out.
Fellig, a school administrator in Los Angeles, first learned that he would need a kidney transplant about five years ago. By mid-2005, his condition worsened, and physicians told Fellig he could only survive for another five years on dialysis. Meanwhile, his only child, Chani, was quickly approaching marriage age, and he wanted nothing more than to be there for her wedding.
I have one daughter and shes the pride of my life, Fellig said.
Desperate, Fellig said he placed an ad on the Chabad.org Web site, asking if anyone would be willing to donate a kidney to him. Quickly, he received a response from Lauren Finkelstein, the founder of Save One Person, a New York-based organization whose purpose is to help those in need. Formerly a television publicist, Finkelstein decided that she wanted to save lives after she narrowly avoided a Jerusalem terror attack in 2001.
I thought to myself, Im not married, I dont have any kids, I want to do something meaningful with my life, said Finkelstein, the single mother of a 2-year-old. She immediately made it her mission to find solutions for those in critical need, finding organs and bone marrow for those who would otherwise die.
Joining forces with her long-time mentor, Rabbi Simon Jacobson, a Crown Heights author and lecturer, she established the nonprofit Save One Person in January of 2002 and hopes to eventually transform the volunteer-based organization into a fully staffed company. In one of Jacobsons classes, she met entrepreneur Eric Targan, who decided to feature Save One Person notices in his Joke of the Day e-newsletter each Thursday.
Fortunately, Marisa Hester had been a Joke of the Day subscriber for several years, and as she was browsing her e-mails, a post about Felligs emergency situation touched her.
Just seeing that someone was in need, I thought what would it hurt to have a blood test done? Hester said. It was all God he orchestrated it.
Hester and her family belong to the Church of God, a fundamentalist branch of Pentecostal Christianity that emphasizes personal connection with God through baptism with the Holy Spirit. Living in a predominantly Christian community, Hester had never met a Jew before Fellig, but she maintains that Christian and Jews believe in the same God who blessed her decision.
Fellig agreed, explaining that Christians, Muslims and Jews all worship the same God, and he has no qualms with Hesters religious beliefs.
She decided to have a higher calling, he said.
Due to her relatively rare Rh-negative blood type, Hester knew that she would never be a match for her children, if either one of them ever needed a kidney. During her own pregnancies, her blood type caused her body to develop antibodies against even her own children when she was carrying them.
I knew that something could eventually happen to my kids one day, she said. I did it for him, just as I would want somebody to do for me and my children. Her initial blood test revealed that she was a match for Fellig, but initially doctors found another donor, Hester said. Soon after, however, the doctors called her again to say they needed her, and Hester agreed to give her kidney to a man whom she had never met.
I wanted him to be able to see his daughter get married and have children, Hester said.
With no compensation beyond flying costs, her donor preparations began with a series of urine tests back home in Prattville, a city of 30,000 in central Alabama. In October 2006, she flew to Los Angeles to endure eight hours of further testing at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center, where she remembers filling 23 vials with blood. Doctors maintained that she was an ideal candidate as long as she lost some weight, and after doing so, she flew again to Los Angeles in January 2007 to undergo more exams.
Six months later, Hester and her children arrived on the West Coast for the operation, scheduled for July 20. Reluctant to hide the truth from her children now 4 and 9 she explained to them exactly what was going to happen.
They were worried that something would happen to Mommy, Hester said. Never in my life had I had a surgery before.
Her 9-year-old daughter Hannah, though proud, was also afraid. I felt kind of scared because I was afraid she was going to get hurt or something, said Hannah, who also attended the wedding. She did the right thing because saving someones life is the best thing you could do.
According to both Hester and Fellig, the two surgeries went smoothly, with minimal side effects. Following the transplant which occurred on a Friday Fellig stayed in the hospital for a week, where he experienced some initial organ rejection. After the early problems, however, his body ultimately accepted the organ, and he made it home in time for the following Shabbat, he said.
Since the transplant, Hester and Fellig check on each other regularly, and Fellig said that he now has his best test results he currently sees the doctor only once every three months. When Felligs daughter Chani announced her engagement, he immediately thought to bring Hester to the wedding.
Im extremely happy to have him alive, dancing at my wedding, and Im looking forward to many more years with him, Chani said, smiling.
After the ceremony, Hester and her daughter left the Lubavitcher Rebbes library and crossed Eastern Parkway to join the party at the Ohelei Torah ballroom. Clearly new members of the extended family, the Hesters joined hands with the other guests on the womens side of the mechitza, bobbing to the live klezmer melodies. Hannah jumped in sync with the Lubavitch children, for whom such weddings were routine and whose feet had memorized the dances. A bit more hesitant than her outgoing daughter, Hester dropped in and out of the throbbing circles, but was never abandoned by her chasidic companions.
They say that doctors are angels of healing, Fellig said. [The transplant] is a miraculous occurrence, and she was the angel of mercy for me.
Warning! This is a high-volume ping list.
Actually, I always saw the Church of God as Pentecostal Lite. A fundamentalist sect of the Pentecostal religion? Heck, the women wear pants, cut their hair and wear makeup/jewelry. Now the Apostolics, that’s the fundy side. Not a bad thing, but they are definitely strict in their ‘not of this world’ way of living.
And yes, Church of God folks are pretty modern, at least around here. Not like the old Holiness congregations used to be.
What a beautiful heart-warming story!
Some one need to explain G-d's Word to Mr Fellig. shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach Adonai
A total stranger demonstrated God’s heart to Mr. Fellig by giving him a kidney. I think it’s terribly sad when people can’t love ...
I know this man well. It truly is a miracle. Bless this woman, and thank you for the post.
COOL! What a GIFT!!!
A total stranger demonstrated Gods heart to Mr. Fellig by giving him a kidney. I think its terribly sad when people cant love ...
7 posted on July 4, 2008 1:34:21 PM MDT by Tax-chick
But it is lie from the pits of Hell that Muslims worship Allah is not the G-d of Abraham, Issac and Israel !
Marisa Hester performed an act of righteousness in her gift. shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach Adonai
the same G-d as Jews and Christians.
But it is lie from the pits of Hell that Muslims worship
Allah is not the G-d of Abraham, Issac and Israel !
One person’s “lie from the pits of Hell” is another person’s “honest error” or “fact about which there is considerable controversy.” Perhaps someone will send him an email detailing what you consider the correct view on the matter.
That said, why should Mr. Fellig have any “qualms” about the fact that another person has a different religious belief ... whether his kidney donor was Church of God, Moslem, or Shinto? The world is full of people with different religious beliefs, and everlasting Qualms would probably not be good for a man who’s been so ill.
G-d bless this dear lady, though I wish Mr. Fellig hadn’t just put Southern Fundamentalists in the same category as moslems. Apparently it’s going to be a long, long time (if any) before anyone sees the special Judaeophilia of Southern Fundamentalists. Pastor Hagee, anyone?
HaShem is still a jealous G-d.
And will Zot poor Mr. Fellig for taking a kidney from a Christian?
I didn't mean to offend you, but unfortunately this "all religions and 'gxds' are equal" has been introduced in the name of Jewish suffering at the hands of chr*stians and it has created the impression that Judaism is a liberal religion when it is not.
I am absolutely ecstatic that a fellow Southern Fundamentalist saved a Jew's life. I'm just disappointed that rather than remark on the deep but hidden psychic connection between these two communities he went into a kum-ba-ya type thingie.
I’m not offended. I’m just not clear on why Mr. Fellig should be upset or concerned that his kidney came from a non-Jew. It’s curious that the comments suggesting he should be concerned do not come from Jewish people.
No one's upset that he took a kidney from a non-Jew. Some of us are upset that at a perfect opportunity to point out that Jews and Southern Fundamentalists really aren't matter and anti-matter (whose meeting will destroy the universe) and to stress the commonality of those particular two communities he went into a speech about "chr*stians, moslems, and Jews" that sounds like something Abe Foxman would say. FCOL, according to Wikipedia (granted, not the most reliable source) CHaBa"D still rejects Copernicus. A Fundy should sound like a Fundy, dangit, not the American Civil Liberties Union.
But the most important thing is this man's life was saved to learn Torah and perform mitzvot and a Southern Fundamentalist made it possible. I just don't like to see the commonalities of those two communities brushed aside with universalism.
Okay, I see your point. Perhaps he wasn’t expecting to be quizzed about the organ donor’s religion. Maybe he doesn’t know anything about it except that it’s a Christian denomination, characterized (above all else) by the belief that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah.
You're right, of course. Unfortunately most Jews can't tell the difference between an Autocephalous Apostolic Malankara Jabobite Syrian Orthodox and a Fire-Baptized Snake-Handlin' J*sus Name Double Rectified Sho' 'Nuff Primitive Old Regular Baptist. All they know is that they are The Enemy.
“Primitive Old Regular Baptist”? That’s one I’ve missed! Maybe we’re not far enough out in the sticks ... there could be one in the wilds of Anson County :-).
Many Christians don’t know a thing about the subdivisions of Jewish faith (or non-faith, in the case of Reform), either. It leads to their thinking that people like Abe Foxman actually represent some sort of religious group that believes in God and all that, instead of radical atheists whose ancestors were Jewish.
I just made that up by joining "Regular Baptist" (I'm not quite sure what that means) with "Primitive Baptist" (the "Hardshells" who believe John Calvin was a wuss).
Actually, there are now Primitive Baptist Universalists (ie, fundamentalist universalists who believe that everyone is "saved" because J*sus died for them--not because "all men are brothers" or "all religions are equal"). Gotta hand it to 'em; they're consistent!
Many Christians dont know a thing about the subdivisions of Jewish faith (or non-faith, in the case of Reform), either. It leads to their thinking that people like Abe Foxman actually represent some sort of religious group that believes in God and all that, instead of radical atheists whose ancestors were Jewish.
Unfortunately the situation is aggravated by liberal Jews who intentionally blur those distinctions, often taking great glee in offending people in the name of Judaism ("we Jews are pro-abortion/pro-gay/anti-prayer/evolutionists"). And they seem to take the greatest care to publicly distance themselves from that awful reactionary "old testament" with which Southern Fundamentalists so insist on identifying them. I'm sure most liberal Jews would rather be stereotyped as evil well-poisoning usurers than as Bible-bangin', Canaanite-killin', sheep-sacrificin' Theocratic religious fanatics with names like Caleb and Jethro.
Well, since Jethro was Arab, I can see that :-).
Actually, there are now Primitive Baptist Universalists (ie, fundamentalist universalists who believe that everyone is "saved" because J*sus died for them--not because "all men are brothers" or "all religions are equal".
I had no idea. It's certainly interesting. My great-great-grandfather out in Missouri was a Hardshell Baptist pastor. A generation later, they moved to town and became "Christian Church, Disciples of Christ" because that's what was there.
The fact that so many people of Jewish heritage are literal or practical atheists is disturbing to me as a supporter of the nation of Israel. The Bible makes it clear how God feels about apostasy in Israel.
Thank you. I have printed this to give to a friend whose life was saved by a donated kidney.
What the heck is a “Southern Fundamentalist”? Fundies live in the north too ya know.
This article confuses me - I don’t know who gave what or which sex is which.
Glad he got the kidney, wish he had got a brain with it. Christians and Jews worship the God of Israel, who shows His Holiness with love and mercy, Islamics worship a god from Arabia called Allah that shows his "mercy" by killing and torture.
Pretty obvious that the difference is beyond the name to anyone with half a brain focused on the subject.