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Professor secretly improves his health for 2 years to donate life-saving kidney to coworker

Professor secretly improves his health for 2 years to donate life-saving kidney to coworker.
Professor secretly improves his health for 2 years to donate life-saving kidney to coworker. Via: Cornell University

A professor at Cornell University had his life saved by a fellow staff member, who secretly improved his health for 2 years, so he could donate a kidney.

Ron Ehrenberg had all but given up the search for a kidney donor. He had been on the waiting list for five years. Ehrenberg had his concerns regarding receiving a kidney from the deceased donor list. The kidneys can deteriorate sooner and can be quite rare. There was also the added risk of getting a disease from the kidney. Ehrenberg, at 75, wanted the best chance of non-rejection he could get.

With no donor in sight that met the requirements, Ehrenberg, who was living with end-stage renal disease, started dialysis to give him more time with his family.

“I was so fatigued and had so little energy,” said Ehrenberg. “We were so worried.”

Enter an anonymous donor, who at first, preferred to stay that way. Ehrenberg was ecstatic to find a living person that was a match and pleaded with the hospital to release the information.

Ron Ehrenberg, right, with his wife, Randy.
Ron Ehrenberg, right, with his wife, Randy. Via: Cornell University

After a nurse passed along Ehrenberg’s request, his co-worker of seven years, Adam Seth Litwin, an associate professor at the school, sent an email revealing his life-saving gift.

Not only did Litwin offer his kidney, but he also made life changing decisions regarding improving his health and losing weight to do so.

Litwin said he got serious about donating after he lost mother-in-law to a similar illness.

Cornell University associate professor Adam Seth Litwin, right, with fellow Cornell professor Ron Ehrenberg, center, and Ehrenberg's wife, Randy.
Cornell University associate professor Adam Seth Litwin, right, with fellow Cornell professor Ron Ehrenberg, center, and Ehrenberg’s wife, Randy. Via: Cornell University

“She and I were very close and she was actually the same exact age as Ron,” Litwin said. “She was not a candidate for a transplant, but it brought home to me how little time she was able to spend with her grandchildren, my children, and that there is something I could do for someone else that would kind of prevent that from happening again.”

While Adam wanted to remain anonymous, Ron convinced him to come forward, in hopes that his friend’s generosity would inspire others to do the same.

“Adam was a real hero” Ehrenberg said.

Ehrenberg said he plans to spend his new retirement making up for years lost to illness and spend many more years with his grandchildren.


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