Israeli kidney donation nonprofit hits ‘world record-breaking’ 1,000 transplants

Matnat Chaim, which mainly facilitates altruistic living donor transplants between non-relatives, helps with 200 cases over past year since death of co-founder from COVID-19

Collage of a number of Matnat Chaim's kidney donors. (Screenshot: Channel 13)
Collage of a number of Matnat Chaim's kidney donors. (Screenshot: Channel 13)

Leading Israeli kidney donation nonprofit Matnat Chaim has continued the legacy of its co-founder Rabbi Yeshayahu Heber, who died at age 55 of COVID-19 last April, marking 1,000 transplants this week.

“We broke an unprecedented world record,” his widow and the organization’s co-founder, Rachel Heber, said in a television interview.

“I knew this was his desire and his wish was not to leave me, but it was obvious our lifework must continue,” she told Channel 13 news.

The kidney donation organization the Hebers founded in 2009, Matnat Chaim (Gift of Life), facilitates voluntary kidney donations in Israel and celebrated its 1000th transplant, with some 200 of them taking place over the past year.

Matnat Chaim cofounders Yeshayahu Heber, left, and Rachel Heber in this undated photo. (Courtesy)

In 2018, the BioMed Central (BMC) Nephrology Medical Journal called Matnat Chaim “a major force for arranging living donor kidney transplantation, mainly by facilitating altruistic living unrelated donor transplantation.”

Among other services, Matnat Chaim provides a framework prior to and after donations, helping with paperwork, running a buddy system with past donors, advising with regard to government rights, and breaking down medical terminology for patients throughout the transplant process.

In 2017, police launched an investigation into Heber on suspicion of organ trafficking but closed the case without charge a year later.

Heber has been honored by the Health Ministry and Israeli hospitals for his work.

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