Ron Ehrenberg's donor wished to remain anonymous; eventuallly, the professor was shocked to learn it was his colleague of 7 years, Adam Litwin.
Ron Ehrenberg, a professor at the Industrial and Labor Relations and Economics School at Cornell University, had been searching for a kidney transplant for two years in vain. The 75-year-old was living with end-stage renal disease, so he began dialysis to give him more time with his family. “I was so fatigued and had so little energy,” said Ehrenberg. “We were so worried.” Life was so difficult where Ehrenberg was not even allowed to travel for five years in case a kidney became available. After five years of being on the transplant list, he had great news—a live donor had come forward.
A kidney from a deceased owner takes time to kick in and can tend to wear out sooner, whereas a live donor's kidney can function effectively almost immediately. So the professor was thrilled to have received news from a live donor. But who was the kind person behind the gesture? Ehrenberg's donor wished to remain anonymous, but after much begging, the professor was shocked to learn who had been willing to give him this amazing life-saving gift. It was his co-worker of seven years, Adam Seth Litwin, an associate professor at the school. Litwin explained that the cause meant a lot to him, especially after his mother-in-law died.
“She and I were very close and she was actually the same exact age as Ron,” said Litwin, according to Good Morning America. “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. I'm kind of grumpy and curmudgeon on the outside, so this is definitely not consistent with whatever images that I have created to those around me,” he added.
Litwin had to get in shape to be able to donate so he spent two years secretly working on his health. He lost around 25 pounds, improved his diet, and managed blood sugar levels. He finally got approved to donate on April 20, which is a particularly thoughtful day: it fell on Ehrenberg’s birthday! Litwin wanted to avoid all the attention but his friend pushed him to come forward as it would probably save more lives. Litwin also admitted that not only did he want his friend's life to be extended by a few years but he also wanted to teach his two kids a valuable lesson on love. “I keep joking that I don't want people to think just because I did this that I'm not still a miserable b------," said Litwin.
To Ehrenberg, this incredible gift of life is something he cannot imagine ever being able to repay. “Adam was the real hero,” said Ehrenberg. “I am deeply indebted to Adam and I will spend the rest of my life trying to think about how I can repay him.” The duo hopes that their story will help inspire others to be motivated to be donors as well. “We hope we could encourage more people to be donors either alive or deceased kidney donors,” said Ehrenberg.
Cover Image Source: Cornell University