Friday, February 9, 2018

Altruistic kidney donation in Israel: Matnat Chaim (gift of life)

Matnat Chaim (gift of life) is an Israeli organization, led by a rabbi, that promotes living kidney donation.  It's been quite successful, but has also been the source of some controversy and suspicion.

Here's an academic article about them:

Altruism and Religion: A New Paradigm for Organ Donation
by Aviad RabinowichEmail authorAlan Jotkowitz, Journal of Religion and Health, February 2018, Volume 57, Issue 1, pp 360–365

Abstract: "Activity of NGO’s supporting living donor kidney donations can affect the shortage of kidneys. Matnat Chaim is a Jewish orthodox organization active in Israel since 2009. This is a voluntary organization with aims to shorten and eliminate the waiting list for kidneys. Since the beginning of its activity, it has said to play a key role in 379 kidney transplantations. In 2015, out of 174 live donor kidney transplantations that took place in Israel, Matnat Chaim had a key role in 88 of them (50.6%). We found some ethical issues concerning the organization's activity. The donor can restrict his or her donation to specific characteristics of recipient which can result in organs transplanted in a homogeneous group of the population. Another issue is the question of whether nudging people to kidney donation takes place and whether it is valid to do so. We found that Matnat Chaim does a great deal for promotion and intermediation of kidney donations in Israel. This form of promotion can be implemented by other organizations and countries."

They earlier were the subject of some investigations, but I haven't heard that anything further has come of this. Here's an article from The Times of Israel in September 2017
Head of transplant organization arrested over ‘organs for donations’ scheme
Charity suspected of bumping potential recipients to top of waiting list in exchange for funding, paying illegal compensation to donors

"Police on Monday arrested the head of a charity that facilitates voluntary organ donations in Israel, and three of its employees, on suspicion that it illegally traded organs for donations.
"The suspicions include managing the waiting list so as to bump potential recipients to the top in exchange for donations to the organization, and paying compensation to potential organ donors, police said.
"A police spokesperson explained that the investigation was “particularly complex and sensitive” and officers have made an effort not to interrupt the continuing work of the organization “in order to allow its life saving services to continue regardless of the ongoing probe.”"

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