Only half of humanity can give birth—the female half—but both men and women can give life by donating a kidney to someone whose survival rests on receiving a healthy organ.
In America today, there are more than 100,000 people hoping to be on the receiving end of a life-saving kidney. For now, their names are on a waiting list. One of those names is Henry (“Hank”) Goldberg, who lives with wife Viki in the Cortlandt village of Buchanan.
A proud Navy veteran who later joined the National Guard, Hank Goldberg has spent 30 years in uniform in service to his country and his community.
“Now,” says Viki, “we are asking for someone to step up to the plate, to show your gratitude for all the good things in your life by paying it forward. Gratitude is a good attitude.” She adds that “Age is not a limiting factor. Yale New Haven and Mount Sinai hospitals work with people over the age of 70 as donors and recipients.”
Hank was diagnosed with end stage renal disease five years ago. Since then, he has adhered to a strict dietary regimen that involves severe restrictions and total elimination of certain foods from his diet.
Through their ordeal, one small blessing so far is that Hank has avoided the need for dialysis.
That’s the result of the couple carefully controlling Hank’s nutritional intake, supplemented by regular exercise and Chinese acupuncture treatments.
Still, as Viki points out, life is not nearly as simple as they’d like it to be: “Fulfilling our needs is a full-time job of planning, shopping, prepping and cooking. It includes minimally processed foods, no takeout, no fast food, no deli counter salads, and no bottled salad dressings. Everything is home prepped. We haven’t missed a good meal yet.”
The couple’s mutual devotion and discipline are inspiring, as is Hank’s fortitude and attitude. Now 75, he grew up in Crotona Park, Bronx. He enlisted in the Navy at 18, and served a tour of duty during the Cold War era. He became a New York City corrections officer and member of the National Guard.
Viki, who grew up in Brooklyn, is 72. As a registered nurse, she practiced for 40 years, until retiring in 2003 from Bethel Nursing Home, where she also used to volunteer as a lay pastoral visitor.
These days, Hank stays busy with varied interests: They range from World War II history, travel, and international mysteries, to ice hockey, baseball, sports memorabilia and photography.
He also stays vigilant with “eyes open” on the neighborhood.
Hank and Viki are cat people. Over the course of three decades, they have housed a total of 14 rescue cats who are mostly elderly. The couple finds great comfort from that experience. Moreover, Henry is an accomplished “cat whisperer.” He calms the creatures just by holding and looking at them.
Amidst their very active existence looms the anxiety of not knowing what the immediate future will bring. The wait time for a cadaver kidney is four to seven years in New York State, which sadly ranks among the lowest in the U.S. for registered organ donors, at 24 percent of the adult population. That is half the national average of 48 percent of adults who have registered as donors.
Hank and Viki have found both solace and support in Renewal.org, a non-profit “dedicated to assisting people suffering from various forms of kidney disease… and to saving lives through kidney donation.”
Hank and Viki are active travelers whose favorite adventure trip was 10 days spent rafting the Colorado River. They look forward to taking a riverboat tour down the entire length of the Mississippi River after Henry finds a kidney donor.
Perhaps there is someone out there reading this who can help them on their way to safe and healthy travels ahead.
For more information on how you can help Hank Goldberg and Viki, visit Renewal.org; email R2175@renewal.org; or call 718-431.9831 x 209.
Bruce Apar is chief content officer of Pinpoint Marketing and Design, a Google Partner Agency. Its Adventix division helps performing arts venues increase ticket sales. He also is an actor, a community volunteer, and a contributor to several periodicals. Follow him as Bruce the Blog on social media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 914-275-6887.