Background: The 2014 Consensus Conference on Best Practices in Living Kidney Donations recognized live donor kidney transplantation as the best treatment for late-stage kidney disease, yielding superior graft and patient survival, improved quality of life, fewer requirements for dialysis and increased cost-effectiveness compared to deceased donor kidney transplantation. Yet in spite of the excellent results of living kidney donation, the annual number of living kidney donors is declining in many countries, including the United States. In Israel, a non-profit organization, Matnat Chaim ("Gift of Life" in Hebrew), a faith-based initiative, has emerged as a major force for arranging living donor kidney transplantation mainly by facilitating altruistic living unrelated donor transplantation.
Methods: A retrospective review of the records of live kidney donations facilitated by the Matnat Chaim organization and referred to Israel transplant centers, since the organization's inception in 2009, was performed and compared to published data from the Israel Ministry of Health.
Results: Matnat Chaim has facilitated 494 live kidney donations since its founding in February 2009 until the end of 2017. Of the 124 live kidney transplants performed in 2016, 111 (90%) were shown to be altruistic and unrelated. This large number of donations was associated with a doubling of the total number of kidney transplantations, performed in Israel (data published by the Israel Ministry of Health).
Conclusions: The success of an Israel community organization in the promotion of kidney transplantation may serve as a model for other religious and non-religious communities worldwide.
Keywords: Altruism; Community organization; Kidney transplant.