Daniel Perelman was always an intelligent, inquisitive child who skipped fourth grade, won chess competitions, was on the mock trial team and Latin club, and was always at the top of his class academically. “Every child, for his parents, is their entire world,” says his father Benny. “He was extremely talented, extremely curious.”
Daniel found a perfect match at Northwestern University’s integrated science program, where he was involved in campus activities and the local Jewish community. “He was so happy and on top of his game at Northwestern,” Benny says. “He was finding his new identity. He was evolving; we enjoyed seeing him mature. He always had a strong identity and character. He was finding a way to leave his mark.”
Daniel had developed a passion for aviation during his teen years, and on May 26, 2022, while working toward his pilot’s license, he boarded a small airplane for his second solo flight. During a series of “touch and goes,” repeated takeoffs and landings, he experienced problems and reported engine failure. Sadly, not long after his distress call, Daniel’s plane went down in the backyard of a home in Wauwatosa, WI.
Ana and Benny, Daniel’s parents, and his sister Lola were devastated. But Daniel had made his wishes clear: he wanted to donate his organs. “It wasn’t really our choice; it was his choice,” Benny says. “For him, it wasn’t even a question. This has been a strong point in everything we’ve been doing since then.”
On May 28, 2022, 18-year-old Daniel donated his heart, liver and both kidneys to give the gift of life to others in need. “He was a good person—young, idealist,” Benny says. “He was constantly challenging us to be a better person and help others.”
Now, Daniel’s family keeps his memory alive through Daniel Gives Back, a charitable organization that provides scholarship opportunities to students, organizes blood drives, and encourages people to do good deeds in Daniel’s memory. Daniel’s sister Lola is also working to establish a chapter of Student Organ Donation Advocates (SODA) at her high school to educate her peers about the importance of organ and tissue donation.
Benny says there is a phrase in the Jewish faith that saving one life is equivalent to saving the world. His family is passionate about spreading the word about the importance of organ donation. “If you can help just one individual and give them another 50 years of life, there’s no reason not to do it,” he says.
Every 10 minutes, someone is added to the organ transplant waiting list.
Approximately 113,000 men, women, and children are waiting for life-saving organ transplants. One organ donor has the power to save up to eight lives and change the outcomes of someone’s world forever by giving them a second chance. Additionally, tissue donation can save and improve the lives of up to 75 people with their gifts. You can make a huge impact by registering as an organ and tissue donor.
Learn more about organ and tissue donation, or register as a donor at https://donatelifewisconsin.org.