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Sander needs a kidney donor

A healthy person can donate a kidney and save Sander’s life.

A living donor does not need to be a blood relative. Any healthy adult, 18+, can donate. There is no age limit. There have been healthy living kidney donors in their 70s.

A living donor does not need to reside in Canada. All medical and travel expenses, including lost wages are covered by government and private programs.

Sander has O blood type, and he can receive a kidney donation directly from a donor with O+/O- blood type. However, a living donor can be a different blood type than Sander. If Sander and his donor have different blood types, they can do a paired exchange.

If you want to apply to donate your kidney to Sander, please email or for information on completing the hospital’s application form.

Sander is registered with the Ajmera Transplant Centre at Toronto General Hospital (TGH), which is part of UHN (University Health Network).

If you have questions about living kidney donation, please contact TGH’s Ajmera Transplant Centre:

Sander Smith

Sander’s Story

Bar Mitzvah 2014
I created this site to help find a living kidney donor for my husband, Sander. I wanted to donate, but I was not approved.
– Jennifer

Sander has been on dialysis for nearly four years. His kidneys were damaged by multiple myeloma, which is a type of blood cancer. He was originally diagnosed with cancer back in May 2013. He started chemo and dialysis the same week. After chemo and a stem-cell transplant in October 2013, his cancer has been in remission. After 9 months on dialysis, and due to the stem-cell transplant, Sander’s kidneys improved enough so that he could temporarily stop dialysis. But Sander’s kidneys were still in pretty bad shape from all the initial damage by the cancer, and they gradually deteriorated further.

Sander had to go back on dialysis 4 1/2 years later, in December 2018.
Dialysis is debilitating, and Sander urgently needs a kidney transplant.

Sander spends 3 evenings each week hooked up to a machine for 3 hours each time. He comes home drained and exhausted. He spends much of the next day recovering and preparing to go back again the following day.

Shortly after Sander started dialysis for the second time, a close friend in the U.S. reached out to him and generously offered to donate a kidney. After this friend completed the initial testing steps at home, he came to Toronto twice for additional tests.  Although he was a good match and in good health, the transplant team did not approve him as a donor. This was very disappointing for everyone involved. However, we were very pleased that the transplant team took every precaution to protect potential donors — this despite the very real need to find more volunteers. Read our friend’s account of the testing process in My (Failed) Kidney Donation Adventure in Toronto.

In Sander’s own account of our friend’s testing process, he wrote:

The medical team that was responsible for protecting his interests did its job. Given the lengths that Saul went to on my behalf, I could not put my own personal interests ahead of his safety. And that made me happy. I know that the health and wellbeing of any future potential donors will be paramount, just as Saul’s was.

It’s hard for me to be upset over how things turned out. And I can very honestly say that it’s hard to think of a time in my life when I was happier than when my friend gave me hope when he tried to give me his kidney.

Read the rest of Sander’s account in My (Failed) Kidney Reception Adventure in Toronto.

I was so inspired by our friend’s generous gesture that the next day I started testing to be Sander’s donor. Since Sander and I are different blood types, we hoped to do a paired exchange, where I would donate to someone compatible, while someone compatible with Sander would donate to him. I completed my initial testing, just as the pandemic started and everything shut down. Unfortunately, I was disqualified after the first round of testing. A family member who offered to donate a kidney to Sander also unfortunately did not qualify.

Anyone in good health can donate to Sander: There is no age limit or blood-type requirement. If the donor and Sander have different blood types, they can do a paired exchange.

About Sander

  • * Sander is a husband, father, son, brother, and friend. Sander’s parents, both in their 90s, are in good health.
  • * Sander is from Baltimore, where he attended the Talmudical Academy (TA).
  • * He studied math and computer science at The Johns Hopkins University.
  • * After graduation, Sander worked at IBM and lived in Montgomery County, Maryland.
  • * He moved to Haifa, Israel to work at IBM’s Research Facility, and he later worked at several Israeli tech startups.
  • * When we got married, we moved to Zichron Ya’acov.
  • * After our son was born, we moved to Toronto, my hometown.
  • * We recently moved to Kitchener.
  • * Sander is a software developer and an entrepreneur.
  • * Sander enjoys watching sports, especially his home football teams: the Baltimore Ravens and The JHU (Johns Hopkins University) Blue Jays.
  • * Sander’s Hebrew name is אהרון שבתי בן אסתר איטע (Aharon Shabtai ben Esther Ita)

Learn More

Why not dialysis?

* Dialysis does not restore normal kidney function: it provides only 10- 15% of normal function.
* Dialysis is better than dying of kidney failure, but it is painful, debilitating, and time consuming.
* While dialysis keeps a patient alive, a kidney transplant will give them back their life.
* The life expectancy for a transplant recipient is much longer than for a dialysis patient.

Why a living donor?

* FASTER: The wait in Ontario for a deceased donor kidney is approximately 7 years.
* LASTS LONGER: On average a deceased donor kidney lasts 10 years, while a living-donor kidney lasts an average of 15-20 years. Some transplanted living-donor kidneys last for many decades.
* BETTER RESULTS: There is a significant chance that kidneys from a deceased donor won’t work initially, which increases the chance of complications. In contrast, kidneys from living donors work right away about 95% of the time.

What’s the testing process?

* Phase 1 of the testing is done outside of the hospital — at local labs and your doctor’s office.
* Phase 2 of the testing is done at UHN, in Toronto.
* Testing determines not only whether you are a match, but whether you are healthy enough to donate.
* The requirements are very strict, focusing on maintaining the health and wellbeing of prospective donors.
* Read our friend’s account of the testing process in My (Failed) Kidney Donation Adventure in Toronto.

What about testing fees, expenses, and lost wages?

No matter where you live, any expenses you incur, such as travel expenses or lost wages, will be covered by an Ontario government program, Trillium, or Renewal, a charitable organization that facilitates living kidney donations by supporting living donors.
Your expenses will be reimbursed even if you change your mind or you are not accepted.

What’s a paired exchange?

The kidney paired-exchange program enables two transplant candidates to receive organs, and two donors to give organs, although the original recipient/donor pairs were incompatible. Each donor gives a kidney to the other person’s intended recipient. For more information, see here.

What about donor privacy?

* For ethical reasons, the transplant centre has separate teams for the transplant recipients and prospective donors.
* Based on my own experience, I can assure you that the hospital will maintain your privacy throughout the entire process.
* We will not even know that you are in the process unless you tell us.
* We will never identify you without your consent.

I can’t donate a kidney. How can I help?

Excellent! And thank you for your support.
Not everyone can donate a kidney. You don’t need to explain why.
But you can still help.

And here’s the good news: We’re not asking for money. Kidney transplant is a well-funded process, so that both the donor and recipient do not need to spend any of their own money. Both public and private funds are available to cover medical costs, travel, and even lost wages.

If you really want to help, then please share our story to help us find someone to donate a kidney to Sander.

There are many ways to share our story:

  • * Email a link to our page to your friends.
  • * Post our page to your favorite social media sites.

Research has shown that when you also include a personal message about the site, people are more likely to act on it.

  1. Click a sharing button (above, below, or to the right) to share Sander’s story with anyone who may want to be a donor or help us share our story.
  2. Add a personal message to your family, friends, colleagues, and neighbours.

We are very grateful for your help.

I don’t live in Canada. can I still donate?

TGH’s Ajmera Transplant Centre is the second largest transplant unit in North America, and it routinely works with donors who come from all over the world.

In many ways, donating in Canada is easier than in the United States:

  • * Medical expenses for organ donation in Canada are fully funded by government programs. Private health insurance is not necessary for either the donor or recipient, and no one ever sees hospital bills.
  • * All expenses incurred by the donor (e.g. travel, lost wages, etc.) are fully covered by a combination of government and private programs.
  • * The Ajmera Transplant Centre in Toronto is a state-of-the-art facility offering world-class medical care.

Still not sure?

Read the account of Sander’s friend, an American who unsuccessfully tried to donate his kidney but was ultimately denied due to not meeting the strict medical criteria. He has very positive things to say about his two trips to Toronto to do testing and about the medical team that ultimately put his interests first.

Resources for learning more about living kidney donation

Get inspired!

  • * Listen to Remember This podcasts of first-person audio stories of living organ donation at UHN.
  • * Watch a living kidney donor talk about her experience.

On the lighter side

Did you know there is a sitcom about living kidney donation? B Positive is a bit kitschy and gets some things wrong, but it gets some things right, too. It’s based on the true story of the series creator, who received a kidney transplant.

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