CLEVELAND — Havi Kuritzsky’s smile is contagious. His laugh makes you laugh. And what he’s going through — at just 8 years old — makes you stop and think.
“I think about what he was like before this diagnosis,” said mom Beth Kuritzsky. “It’s been hard to watch him suffer. Hard to watch any child suffer.”
On Dec. 26, the day of his little brother Isaac’s birthday, Havi was rushed to the emergency room where they found out his kidneys are failing.
For the last three weeks, he’s been on dialysis. Havi is plugged into this machine next to his bed for eight hours, every single night while he sleeps, so he can do what he loves during the day.
“His favorite thing in the world is going to school, truly,” said Havi’s dad Josh.
Havi is in love with being in class, even keeping him home for a couple hours for this interview was tough.
His favorite subject is math — and he wants to be the chief of police when he grows up.
Havi was just a few days old when the Kuritzskys adopted him.
“Everything I do as a mom, I feel like I’m doing in honor of his birth mom, too,” said Beth.
The hope now is to find Havi a match, as quickly as possible. Their family and friends are currently getting screened, a simple process.
You can live with one kidney and a living donor would give Havi the best shot at success.
Rabbi Robert Nosanchuk at Fairmount Temple said it can be difficult to raise the subject of organ and tissue donation in the Jewish community, which the Kuritzskys are part of.
So he hopes Havi’s story strikes home.
“This time, this moment when Havi needs a kidney, when other people are in need of organ and tissue donations, this is perfect moment, I hope, for people to reconsider, to reflect, and discuss the possibility of making that difference,” Nosanchuk said.
According to Lifebanc, Northeast Ohio’s nonprofit organ donation center, there are nearly 3,000 people in Ohio waiting for a life-saving transplant.
Only 65 of those are children under the age of ten.
And minority organ donors are in especially high demand.
In 2022, only 20% of deceased donors and 10% of living donors were people of color — the other 80% and 90% were white.
“I don’t think it's that minorities or people of color are not willing to donate, they surely are and surely believe in this, but it’s just about understanding and gaining that trust that has unfortunately been broken for many many years,” said Heather Mekesa with Lifebanc.
For the Kuritzkys, these weeks have been a whirlwind and the wait is now on to see if someone can step up to donate a kidney that matches.
And while we wait, this little boy shows us just how brave he can be.
If you’d like to sign up to be screened to see if you’re a match for Havi or any of the thousands of people waiting on the transplant list, you can click here to sign up for the simple screening process.