Idit Harel Segal turned 50, and she chose a gift: she was going to give one of her own kidneys to a stranger. The kindergarten teacher from northern Israel hoped that her choice would be an example of generosity in a land of eternal conflict. She was inspired by memories of her deceased grandfather, a Holocaust survivor, who told her to live meaningfully, and by the Jewish tradition, which believes that there is no higher duty than to save a life.
So Mrs. Segal made contact with a group that connects donors and recipients, and begins a nine-month process of transferring her kidney to someone who needs one.
That someone turns out to be a 3-year-old Palestinian boy from the Gaza Strip.
“You do not know me, but soon we will be very close, because my kidney will be in your body,” said me. Segal wrote in Hebrew to the boy, whose family asked not to be named because of the sensitivity about cooperation with Israelites. A friend translated the letter into Arabic so that the family would understand it.
“I sincerely hope that this operation will succeed and that you will lead a long and healthy and meaningful life.” Just after an 11-day war, “I threw away the anger and frustration and saw only one thing. I see hope for peace and love, “she wrote. “And if there were more like us, there would be nothing to fight over.”
What during the months between the decision of Mrs. Segal and the transplant unfolded on June 16, causing deep rifts in the family. Her husband and the eldest of her three children, a boy in his early 20s, opposed the plan. Her father stops talking to her.
For them, Segal believes, she risked her life unnecessarily. The loss of three family members in Palestinian attacks, including her father’s parents, made it even more difficult.
“My family was really against it. Everyone was against it. My husband, my sister, her husband. And the one who supported me the least was my father, ‘said Mrs. Segal said during a recent interview in her home on the mountaintop in Eshhar. “They were scared,” she said.
When she found out the boy’s identity, she kept the details to herself for months.
“I did not tell anyone,” she said. Segal recalls, ‘I told myself if the reaction to the kidney donation is so harsh, the fact that a Palestinian boy will get it will make it even harder.’