ROSELAND, NJ — Jacob Silver has a background in economics and physics, a knack for teaching and a desire to become an engineer.
The 29-year-old Roseland resident has a world of potential. But Silver needs a kidney; and for three years, he has been searching and waiting in vain for a donor.
“I’ve had health problems my whole life, urinary and kidney problems that started early and progressively got worse over time,” said Silver, a graduate of Livingston High School. “I learned around three years ago that I would need a new kidney.”
Silver, who has been on dialysis since October 2017, has a condition known as a neurogenic bladder.
“It was hard to hold a job or go to school, but it was manageable,” said Silver. “I would get sick and require hospital admissions. Then I would go six months without hospitalization, but other times I would go to the hospital twice in a month.”
Silver undergoes dialysis three times a week. He said he's able to get around, but that he is always "kind of tired" and feels "a bit lethargic."
“I am not too limited, I guess," he said. "Physical activities are out, but I can run errands if I need to. I will do some food shopping. I’m not feeling great doing it, and it’s been a bit of a struggle, but I am independent--just weighted down.”
Silver was studying economics at Rutgers University after graduating from Livingston High School, but had to go to rehab because he "had a problem with pain meds that [he] was prescribed for [his] illness.”
He later enrolled in the University of Scranton, where he studied physics and earned a spot on the Dean’s List.
“That’s when I found out I needed a kidney transplant," he said. "I left school after that.”
SIlver’s life since has been one of treatment and waiting and hoping that a donor can be found. He does not have much family in the area. He is close to his mother, but she lives in Florida. His grandparents, who helped raise him and who gave him considerable financial support, live in Essex County, but they have reached an age where they are dealing with irreversible heath issues of their own.
“They took care of me since I was a kid,” Silver said of his grandparents. “They have dementia now. I help manage their affairs.”
Of his own current condition, Silver said that doctors describe his situation as "stable."
"My situation has gotten a little worse over the last year," he said. "I had done at-home dialysis, but that stopped working. Over time, it has gotten a little worse. Now that I am doing the chemo, perhaps I am getting a little better.”
Silver said the number of people with whom he is close is relatively small.
“I like reading and riding my bike,” he said. “I am an easygoing person. I am kind of an introvert, but with the people I know, I care very much about them.”
But if a donor were to be located for Silver, he believes it would enable him to achieve much of what he has strived for and which has been denied him.
“A new kidney would help me tremendously in terms of how I feel day to day, and how I take on sustained endeavors," he said. “It would help me to go finish up my degree. I will still have medical problems I’d have to take care of day to day, but the doctors have said a new kidney would help me a lot.
“Whoever donates would be doing an incredible thing, and I would be indebted to them for having a productive and happy life. It would be hard to put a value on that.”