by Regina Sassoon Friedland
During a routine check-up in 2006, South Seattle’s Albert Behar learned that his kidneys were no longer functioning properly. He kept up with regular visits to his nephrologist and made the recommended dietary changes.
Two years later, Behar’s health had declined. He was faced with the choice of beginning dialysis or starting the process of being a kidney transplant recipient. He asked to be enrolled in the Organ Transplant Waiting List. When he shared this with his family, they learned the waiting list was long and that transplant recipients have a higher success rate if surgery is done prior to the start of dialysis.
Two of Behar’s children wanted to see if they could be compatible donors for their father. His daughter, Lea Hanan, would go through the screening process first. She was a match, but first needed to lose some weight to be eligible to donate. She hit the gym and carefully watched her diet, losing the necessary 35 pounds to be cleared as a donor.
“As soon as I knew my father was in need of a kidney, I knew that I wanted to be the donor,” Hanan said. “My father gave me life. What a rare honor that I can give life back to him.”
One month to the day after the transplant surgery, Hanan’s second son Albert (named after her father) was rushed to the hospital and soon diagnosed with a carcinoid tumor. She said that after her donation, she felt better equipped mentally to handle the challenges that arise in life, and credits that experience with helping her calmly cope with her son’s diagnosis and surgeries.
Both father and daughter live active lifestyles. Behar goes to the gym on a regular basis, is an avid gardener, volunteers weekly at an elementary school and is constantly on the go. Hanan is a kindergarten teacher who enjoys playing tag and soccer with her students during recess. She still goes to the gym regularly and goes on long walks and jogs with her family’s dog.
Hanan is committed to advocate for and encourage living organ donations. She has been a part of a panel at Swedish Hospital on the process of kidney donation, geared to potential donors and recipients, and is also a live resource for speaking with individuals interested in the process.
For more on Albert and Lea click here
Featured image by Michael Behar