Sharp Increase in Kidney Donations in 2016

A room in Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Yerushalayim. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Forty percent more Israelis donated their kidneys to help others who needed them, according to volunteer organization Matnat Chaim (“The Gift of Life”). In 2016, 127 kidneys were donated by Israelis via the organization, the largest one in Israel dealing with such transplants. Over the past nine years, the group has arranged for 380 donations – making 2016 a banner year.

The figures related strictly to “altruistic donations,” in which the donor does not know the recipient, and donates a kidney via the organization. The figures do not include work by other groups, which facilitate donations between relatives and friends.

Matnat Chaim is an Israeli non-profit dedicated to encouraging healthy volunteers to donate kidneys to patients who require a transplant. Donors do not receive monetary compensation, and most are altruistic donors who do not know their recipients prior to the procedure. The organization functions on a not-for-profit basis; the sole motivation of volunteers is their desire to help others and save lives, according to the organization.

In Israel, there are 8,500 patients who receive dialysis, a treatment that allows those without functioning kidneys to survive. Some 15 percent of those receiving the treatment die from kidney disease each year. An additional 400 people begin dialysis each year.

Rabbi Yehoshua Haber, chairman of Matnat Chaim, told Yisrael Hayom that these donations have helped lengthen the lives of many people. “They not only help the recipient, but they enrich the lives of the donors as well. I look forward to the day when there will be no need for donations at all.”