Israeli media is awash with the touching tale of how the son of a Nigerian billionaire braved all odds against him to donate his kidney to a dying lady he had never met.
The Jerusalem Post in an article titled, ‘The Human Spirit: Love, Give, Live’, reported that the story of Smith Jadesimi, son of oil magnate Ladi Jadesimi, resonated in hearts across the country as an untainted demonstration of compassion beyond religion and race.
Born in 1987 into the large and prosperous Jadesimi family, Smith learned the value of supporting charitable causes from a young age under the tutelage of his strict Anglican parents.
“Our parents read the Bible with us every morning,” Smith told Barbara Sofer of The Jerusalem Post, Israel’s foremost English newspaper. “They stressed the value of love. You can believe in something, obey the commandments, keep the Sabbath holy, but love is the greatest motivator.”
The graduate from the University of Pretoria in South Africa regularly gave generously to humanitarian missions, not only in Nigeria but also in countries such as the Philippines, Haiti and Syria, setting aside 70% of his income for charity.
His unusual journey to be a kidney donor in Israel began when he ‘googled’ the words ‘people who need help’ and discovered the website of ‘Matnat Chaim’which literally means ‘the gift of life’. Reading about the NGO’s unique kidney donation program in Israel, a chord within Smith’s heart was struck.
“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.
Smith’s initial email to the Israeli organisation was met with scepticism, Rabbi Yeshayahu Heber admitting he felt it was nothing more than a ploy from the Nigerian to gain entrance into Israel. However, his unyielding persistence eventually swayed their views and they invited Smith for a meeting.
The Israeli embassy in Abuja, however, shared similar cynical sentiments and refused his visa for nearly a year, only finally giving the go-ahead after several high-profile meetings.
After undergoing some gruelling medical examinations in Israel, for which he gave up his tickets at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil to attend, Smith was told to await confirmation. Although he received no news for nearly six more months, his faith remained resolute.
Two long years after beginning his quest to give away a kidney to an Israeli, Jadesimi was finally accepted. His only stipulation about the recipient was that he or she be a young person around his age.
Smith explained that his Christian faith was an instrumental factor in his decision. As a member of The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) in Lagos, Nigeria, he stated that Prophet T.B. Joshua, well known for his extensive charitable missions, was also his inspiration.
“Love isn’t just in your heart; you have to do something to show you love others,“Smith explained, adding this was a practical lesson he learned during his time at The SCOAN.
“And not just someone you know, not for selfish reasons – 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.”
Omaima Halabi, a 21 year old law student from the Druse town of Daliat al-Carmel was the lucky lady. She had been suffering from kidney failure for over 18 months and depended on dialysis for survival.
The surgery was arranged for December 18 2014 at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center. “I wasn’t afraid; it was a mission with God on my side. I had peace of heart,” Smith recalled before entering the theatre.
The operation was a resounding success, Halabi given a new lease of life through the generosity of a young man from a different continent, culture and colour.
“I’m so grateful – to my donor Smith Jadesimi, to my family and to Rabbi Heber,”said Omaima Halabi at the feast held in celebration of her recovery. “This was certainly arranged in Heaven.”
Smith’s father Ladi Jadesimi is the Executive Chairman of Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base (LADOL) and listed among the ‘10 Nigerian billionaires you’ve probably never heard of.’ His sister, Dr. Amy Jadesimi is the managing director of LADOL and was listed by Forbes as one of Africa’s ’20 Young Power Women’.