Kidney donation in Israel

from Market Design at on November 4, 2019 at 01:26PM

In Israel, as in the U.S., a lot of living kidney donations to strangers come from people associated with faith based organizations.  Tablet Magazine has the story:

Kidney donations are on the rise among Orthodox Israelis
By Sara Toth Stub October 28, 2019

"Koplovich is among the growing number of religiously observant Israelis who are volunteering to donate kidneys to people they have never met, ultimately doubling the number of kidney transplants taking place in the country each year. Officials credit the increase in living donors to improved surgical techniques, increased social welfare benefits, and the work of a nonprofit organization called Matnat Chaim, which raises awareness about and facilitates live kidney donations, especially among Orthodox Israelis.

"Rabbinic authorities, whose often stringent definitions of brain death have led to Israel’s relatively low rate of organ transplants from deceased people, are now actively encouraging live donations of kidneys, the most in-demand organ, especially as the danger to the donor has been reduced, according to recent research by Koslowsky, and nephrologists Walter Wasser and Geoffrey Boner, published in the journal BMC Nephrology.

"Two Jewish organizations in the United States, Kidney Mitzvah and Renewal, also raise awareness about and facilitate live kidney donation/

"All kidney donations and transplant pairings made through Matnat Chaim are overseen by the government-appointed National Committee for Kidney Donations, which also makes sure there is no commercial component involved.

"But donors coming through Matnat Chaim can choose the characteristics of their recipient, and most Jewish donors choose to donate to a fellow Jew. Although bioethicists are generally divided over directing organs to certain types of people, Israeli health officials allow the practice, saying that it has helped increase the overall number of kidneys available.

"While Miran Epstein, a medical ethicist at Queen Mary University of London, acknowledges that every donated kidney ultimately helps everyone waiting for a kidney, he said an organization that allows donors to stipulate certain characteristics of potential recipients—including religious affiliation—in effect practices conditional organ donation, which Israel and many other countries don’t allow. When accepting matches made through Matnat Chaim, the government-run transplant system is undermining its own ethics guidelines and public trust, he said: “The ethnic-religious condition is effectively concealed behind the fiction of directed donation. There is no doubt that Matnat Chaim has shortened the waiting list, but the question is, at what price?”

"Meanwhile, Ashkenazi said that the country’s kidney exchange program—where relatives and friends of those in need of a kidney, but who don’t match, donate to a stranger, whose family or friends in turn donate to their relative—often brings together Jewish and Arab donors and recipients."