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N.J. Kidney Donation Combines Faiths

A Reform rabbi and a Methodist pastor may celebrate different holidays this month, but they have something to rejoice together — one is giving a kidney to the other.
( [email protected] ) Dec 18, 2006 08:54 AM EST

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. - A Reform rabbi and a Methodist pastor may celebrate different holidays this month, but they have something to rejoice together — one is giving a kidney to the other.

After almost a year of waiting to hear good news, Rabbi Andrew Bossov found out this week that doctors approved a surgery that will give him one of the Rev. Karen Onesti's kidneys.

Bossov's daughter, Elisabeth, said Onesti's gesture is one of pure human kindness. She said, "I believe what's happening between my dad and Karen is the most prominent example of a healthy interfaith relationship that I and others in the community have ever seen."

Bossov, the spiritual leader of Adath Emanu-El, has interstitial nephritis, kidney failure that has been progressing slowly. The disease appears to stem from a bad reaction he had to medication years ago.

Bossov, 47, had 25 percent normal kidney function for nine years, but last year that decreased to 10 percent. He began dialysis in July.

The two met four years ago through an interfaith council. When he mentioned at a meeting last February that his decreased function allowed him to get on the transplant list, the pastor jumped at the chance to help him.

"I feel about Andy the way I feel about my own brother," Onesti, 49, told The Courier-Post of Cherry Hill for Sunday's editions.

Onesti, of the Masonville-Rancocas United Methodist Church, underwent tests for compatibility with her family's support. The transplant team at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania approved the donation. Next month, the two will meet with a surgical team to schedule the operation.