Yeedle Melber, founder and director of ‘Lehasig’ coaching, describes his journey through denial, panic, and depression before having a kidney donated to him.
By Yeedle Melber – Adapted from a talk given at Renewal Shabaton, 2021.
My name is Yeedle Melber.
I’m just a regular guy.
I’m someone’s husband, father, brother, son and friend.
In my line of work at Lehasig I’m used to speaking before people. I’m humbled tonight to be speaking to a room filled with angels.
Let me please share with you my story:
On Tisha B’av in the summer of 2020, I got a call from my doctor. I had a rough bout with Covid at the very beginning of the outbreak, and upon discharge from the hospital I knew my kidneys had experienced a high level of shock, and desperately needed attention.
“Are you fasting today?” My doctor asked.
I can’t describe to you the scolding I received from him when I answered in the affirmative. “And why haven’t you gotten back to me since your discharge?”
I was experiencing what’s psychologically known the first stage of the five stages of grief, I definitely was in a state of DENIAL.
I feel fine. I’m ok. I don’t need any help.
“You most definitely are not fine” was my doctor’s constant reminder through all of our subsequent Zoom appointments.
Yom Kippur came around and I humored my doctor with a call, knowing well in advance what the answer would be.
“You most definitely cannot fast” I was told.
“You likely won’t make it through the day”.
This was a wake up call for me, not being able to fast on Yom Kippur is definitely saying that I’m not fine. I retreated to the mountains with my family for the shabbos before Yom Kippur. Just to “clear my head” I told myself.
As they say “you can run but you can’t hide”, my mind was racing the whole Shabbos, I couldn’t stop thinking and worrying about my health situation that I suddenly have to face.
Sitting around the Shabbos table with my family, I suddenly felt my heart race at a significantly increased pace.
This was not going to just simply “go away”. I cannot wish it away anymore.
I needed a kidney transplant.
I turned to Renewal, they have accepted me with open arms. After a meeting with Reb Chaim Steinmetz and Mrs Lefkowitz, the dedicated team at Renewal kicked into high gear. They guided me on how to proceed. I was so worried about finding a kidney donor, and Mrs Lefkowitz told me words that was music to my ears; “Don’t worry we will find you a donor”. I’ll never forget these words.
The next emotion I experienced was an overwhelming sense of ANGER.
I was angry at the doctor for bringing me bad news every time I visited him. I was irritated with his staff.
Simple everyday encounters would seem to infuriate me over the coming weeks.
A smile from a neighbor.
A wave from a friend.
“Don’t they know?”
“Why are they smiling?”
I proceeded to try to “bargain” my way out of this situation.
I knew just what vitamins I needed, and which supplements would “fix” me.
I truly went to town, and became a walking, talking pharmacy.
I settled into my ongoing and repeating states of denial, anger and bargaining.
Till one day, I felt ill.
My heart was beating rapidly.
I called a family member who volunteers for Hatzalah to come check me out.
While he was unable to identify the real cause, he suggested I go to the hospital, just in case.
“You are not leaving this hospital”
“Your numbers are sky-high”
“If you leave, you will be back soon, but not on your own 2 feet, I assure you”
I was forced to face the uncomfortable truth.
I needed dialysis.
“But I’m not a sick person”
“I am in great shape, and healthy!”
I was not.
I looked around the dialysis treatment room in the hospital, filled with elderly and sickly patients.
I was one of them now.
A new kidney would be needed.
Having to face my how’s New reality brought me to the fourth level of grief, DEPRESSION.
Here I was in my hospital bed, crying through the night. I have lost the battle. I am now on dialysis. I need a new kidney. No amount of Denial and Anger and Bargaining will help me avoid my situation.
Allowing myself to be sad and to grief over the loss of my health, helped me face it completely and reach the 5th andfinal stage of grief, ACCEPTANCE.
During the long few days I spent in the hospital for dialysis treatment, my little son called me asking me: “Tatty, are you going to be by my Chumash Seudah”?
“I’ll be there”, I promised him with tears in my eyes.
“No you will not”, my doctors needed more time to set me up with a dialysis center.
I was shattered.
I made a call to Menachem Freidman from Renewal and explained my situation.
Immediately, he set into motion what even the doctors believed was impossible.
He contacted another angel Shuki Rottenburg and he had Henich Noeh quickly set up an “at home” dialysis center for me, so I was able to go home and be with my family, and celebrate my child’s milestone with him. I’ll always be grateful to these angles for that.
I was happy to be home, now I wasn’t the person who left the hospital. I have fully accepted that I was seriously ill, in desperate need of help.
One thing was reassuring to me, I knew that Renewal was hard at work for me, to find me the best match possible.
Several weeks later, a great match was identified.
“Who was this angel, ready to literally go under the knife for me?”
I stand before you today a healthy man.
My children got their dad back.
My wife her husband.
My father in law once heard someone mention to the Skulener Rebbe z”l that they were donating their kidney.
“This is akin to ״עקידת יצחק the Rebbe proclaimed.
Someone willing to sacrifice of their own.
It’s such an emotional and inspirational moment for me, to be in a room filled with Yitzchok’s.
What does that make me and all the recipients?
We are all תולדות יצחק. We are your children. All of our good deeds is on your account. You made that possible.
With 800 plus kidneys being donated through renewal so far, you have not only saved 800 people from pain agony and sickness, you have affected thousands of lives. You touch the lives of their children, parents, brothers and sisters, family and friends.
You have given a gift that keeps on giving and perhaps affecting thousands for generations.
I cannot thank you enough to give me the chance be part of my family Simches and to continue living a happy and healthy life. I will forever be indebted.
Thank you for sharing your life.
Renewal TRULY saves lives
Yeedle Melber is the Founder and director of “Lehasig”, coaching and training successful people and companies with leadership and communication skills.
Renewal is the global pioneer in community based altruistic kidney donation. They are dedicated to saving lives by helping kidney donors and the recipients navigate all aspects of the kidney transplant process.
Renewal also educates and raises awareness about kidney donation thereby giving each patient’s community an opportunity to help.