�h� �ew �erse� is aleader in organ donation � and how to �ee� it that wa�
WRITTEN BY ��ND� S���E��� �AND�ER
Last Thanksgiving was looking grim for Mark “ Cookey ” Eisen . Eisen , aPark �idge Fire Department volunteer , learned he had Stage 4 kidney failure and would need atrans- plant . �oping to spread the word asfar as possible , his chief shared the sad news on Parkridgefire . com , with aplea for someone to step forward and save his life .
“ I truly like serving the community and hope to continue living as long as possible with my family and friends ,” Eisen , a former Navy gunner and helicopter crash team member , told local news outlets at the time . Nowahusband , father and grandfather , he shared on social media how hehad alot to live for , and dreaded dialysis .
Eisen ’ sstory drew hundreds of readers� 3� volunteered to donate akidney to him through his page on the National �idney �egistry . One ofthem was Judy �erman . An EMT affiliated with The Valley �ospital , �erman , who lives in Emerson , was acquainted with Eisen through her volunteer work for the
Tri-Borough Ambulance Corps . Two years earlier , she had wanted to donate one of her kidneys to a stranger in need , but tests revealed that she had a large mass on her spleen , and the organ needed to be removed . Between that surgery and COVID , she “ put to bed the idea of kidney donation .
“ But in January , when I saw the article about Mark , Ithought �I ’ ve been wanting to give this damn thing away ,’” she says with a laugh . Their blood types matched , and after a slate of diagnostic tests showed they were perfect matches , surgery was scheduled for April 5at�ackensack �niversity Medical Center through its Living Donor Program . The procedure went beautifully , and �erman was out of the hospital the next day� Eisen went home five days later .
“ I like to say that because they found my spleen mass two years ago , it saved my kidney for Mark ,” �erman says . She feels like part of his extended family , and his loved ones “ want to meet the person who gave me a kidney and they don ’ t know why ,” he jokes . Both Jewish , they use the Yiddish term “ bashert ” to describe their experience � “ destined ,” says