The son of Nigerian billionaire Ladi Jadesimi donated
his kidney to an Israeli girl named Omaima Halabi he’d
never met! Found the story on Jerusalem Post. Read
A black-hatted rabbi, a white-hatted Muslim elder
and a black Christian pastor attend a Christmas
celebration in a Druse village. This is not the first
line of a joke, but a celebration of a gift of life.
When Smith Jadesimi, a tall and athletic 25-year
old from Nigeria, first approached his country’s
Israeli Embassy in Abuja about his desire to
donate a kidney to an Israeli, he was politely but
firmly turned away.
Likewise, the organization that facilitates kidney
transplants in Israel told him no; at least one Israeli
hospital refused him, too.
Jadesimi was undaunted. A man of deep faith, he knew
he was supposed to donate a kidney to an Israeli, and
that it would happen.
Rabbi Yeshayahu Heber was among those who rejected
Jadesimi. Although Heber himself was a kidney
recipient and the founding chairman of Matnat Chaim –
Hebrew for Gift of Life, an organization that desperately
seeks organ donors – he assumed Jadesimi was
seeking a way into Israel as a foreign worker, like many
other Africans. Said Heber, “We don’t want [those who
have fallen on hard times] and want to donate their
kidneys for money; we’re only seeking altruistic
Heber, a full-bodied man with a salt-and-pepper beard,
has just celebrated his 50th birthday; he reached this
milestone thanks of the generosity of a kidney donor.
When he was in his early 40s, working as a high-
ranking educator in two prominent religious academies
with more than 1,000 students, he suddenly lost the
ability to bound up the stairs. His kidneys had failed,
and his life now centered around dialysis.
At the Jerusalem hospital where he received treatment,
there was a younger kidney patient named Pinhas
Turgeman, whose brother had been killed fighting in
Lebanon. The two men studied Torah together through
the long hours, as the dialysis machines filtered their
blood. When Heber received a kidney transplant, he
assured Turgeman he’d be next. But Turgeman died of
a heart attack related to his disease before the rabbi
could find him a donor.
Turgeman’s parents had lost their only two sons;
Heber, too, was devastated. “On that day, the second
day of Adar at 7:05 a.m., when I heard the news,
Matnat Chaim was born,” recounted Heber. Seven years
later, 186 men, women and children have received
kidneys through the organization.
The first letter from Jadesimi in Nigeria arrived on
September 14, 2013. Despite his initial rejection,
Jadesimi kept writing. He eventually convinced Heber
that he was for real. He was ready to undergo medical
tests for suitability in a Nigerian hospital – and he
passed them all.
“The rabbi changed his mind about me, but there was
still the Israeli Embassy to convince about a visa,”
I met Jadesimi at a Jerusalem hostel for children who
have come to Israel for heart surgery. He is
volunteering there until he returns to Nigeria.
Jadesimi was born in 1987 into a large, prosperous and
highly educated family, residing in the oil-rich Delta
State (population four million) of Nigeria. After public
school, he graduated from the University of Pretoria in
South Africa and holds two master’s degrees, one in
statistics and another in computer engineering.
“Our parents read the Bible with us every morning,” he
says. “They stressed the value of love. You can believe
in something, obey the commandments, keep the
Sabbath holy, but love is the greatest motivator. If you
really love, you won’t steal or covet your neighbor’s
His parents attended an Anglican church, but Jadesimi
preferred a more evangelical approach and joined the
Lagos branch of the Synagogue Church of All Nations,
which he says has literally millions of members.
He became a lay pastor there. Staying at a friend’s
home while in Lagos, he began importing fish from
Scandinavia and Indonesia to give to 100 women,
market fishmongers who could make a living peddling
them. He gave away 70 percent of his income, not only
in Nigeria, but also to those in the Philippines and Haiti,
to Christians in Syria and to rebuild Gaza.
The Middle East seemed to him to be the most
troubled; he googled “People who need help” and
Matnat Chaim came up. He read about the kidney
donation program and checked the reputedly low risk
for the donor, first with a friend studying medicine and
then with a veteran physician. “I told him I was trying
to convince a friend not to donate his kidney and
needed good arguments.”
The odds seemed favorable for a young, non-smoking,
non-drinking footballer like him.
“I figured that God isn’t a fool to give us two kidneys if
we only need one, so we’re supposed to give one away
to the needy,” he said. “Love isn’t just in your heart,
you have to do something to show you love others. And
not just someone you know, not selfish, someone
beyond your circle. If you have $10 billion and a kidney
problem, all of your money can’t solve the problem –
only a donor can.”
When Heber’s letter to the embassy didn’t open the
door, the rabbi applied to the Interior Ministry on behalf
of Jadesimi. Half a year passed before a tourist visa
was issued; another month went by before the visa was
stamped in Nigeria.
At last, he got permission to fly to Israel. The
transplant would take place in Haifa. He underwent
additional medical tests, examinations, a first-ever
session with a psychiatrist and another with a social
“After I drew pictures for the psychiatrists, a committee
including professors grilled me about why I wanted to
come; I explained how God had sent me.”
He had to return to Nigeria for an important business
appointment in June 2014. He was assured he’d hear
within three weeks.
At last, at the end of September 2014, four months
later, he received word that he’d passed inspection.
Was he angry at the delays? “Love means being patient
and not expressing yourself in anger,” affirms Jadesimi.
Now, he had to tell his parents. How did they take it?
“They didn’t like the idea, to put it mildly. They said I
was unmarried and had no children, that I shouldn’t
take such a risk. I spoke about the advanced medicine
in Israel. They relented, figuring they’d kill my spirit if
they stood in the way. We all prayed together for
Two years after beginning his quest to give away a
kidney to an Israeli, Jadesimi was accepted. His only
stipulation about the recipient was that he or she be a
young person around his age.
The recipient, he learned, would be Omaima Halabi, 21,
a recently graduated law student from the Druse town
of Daliat al-Carmel outside Haifa. Jadesimi had never
heard of the Druse.
The surgery was arranged for December 18 at Haifa’s
Rambam Medical Center.
“I wasn’t afraid; It was a mission with God on my side.
I had peace of heart.”
He met Halabi, a pretty young woman with shoulder-
length dark hair parted in the middle. He was amazed
that he’d be able to give her another chance at a
normal life. She’d already been suffering from kidney
failure for a year and a half, and had a bleak future
without a kidney.
Omaima’s father, educator Farah Halabi, heard about
the rabbi from the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem
and his kidney-donating organization from the hospital
staff where his daughter was being treated.
He contacted Heber.
On the day of the surgery, Christian prayers were
offered in Nigeria, Jewish prayers in Jerusalem, and
Druse prayers in Haifa. “We were all praying for the
same thing,” noted Heber.
The surgeons detached and removed Halabi’s kidney,
replacing it with one of Jadesimi’s. They connected the
tubes and voila… the kidney started to work.
Jadesimi says he felt pretty good after the surgery, and
was eager to leave the hospital so he could observe
Farah Halabi, Omaima’s dad, offered Jadesimi a ride to
the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth.
“I had to be careful of the stitches and couldn’t kneel
after the surgery,” says Jadesimi. Halabi had a word
with the priest. “I was given a VIP seat,” recounts
Jadesimi. “Imagine, a VIP seat in Nazareth.”
Heber doesn’t allow payment or even extravagant gifts
to donors, but he approved of the Halabi family’s offer
to make a “Christmas” thanksgiving dinner.
They’d do it Druse-style, with grilled meat and abundant
salads. The mayor of Daliat al-Carmel would be there,
the Druse elders, relatives and Rabbi Heber, too.
A packaged meal from the religious kibbutz Nir Etzion
was ordered for him.
“I’m so grateful – to my donor Smith Jadesimi, to my
family, to Rabbi Heber,” said Omaima Halabi at the
feast. “This was certainly arranged in heaven.”
No one in the room argued.
The son of Nigerian billionaire Ladi Jadesimi donated