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April 24, 2020 3:34 pm

Rabbi Yeshayahu Heber, 55, Facilitated Hundreds of Kidney Donations

avatar by Gary Shapiro

Rabbi Avraham Yeshayahu Heber with the late President of Israel Shimon Peres.

Rabbi Avraham Yeshayahu Heber, the founder of a nonprofit that helps with kidney transplants, passed away in Israel on April 23. Through his organization Matnat Chaim (which translates as “gift of life”), hundreds of people received donated kidneys after being matched with them.

For Heber, the subject of kidney transplants was personal. He was a teacher and principal of a yeshiva when he received a kidney transplant and underwent dialysis treatment in 2007. While undergoing treatment at Hadassah hospital, he got to know a young 19-year-old patient named Pinchas who succumbed while awaiting a kidney. Their friendship inspired Heber to leave his job and start an organization in 2009 that would facilitate kidney transplants.

Earlier this year, member of the Knesset Hili Tropper donated a kidney through Heber’s nonprofit. Tropper told the Times of Israel that Heber “dedicated his life to save lives, with infinite dedication, exceptional humility and love for humans that is hard to come by.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “Thanks to him, hundreds of people in Israel have received new lives. Rabbi Heber was an exemplar of humanity, loving kindness and mutual guarantee. We all hoped that he would recover from the coronavirus but to our anguish he passed away this evening.”

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The number of transplanted kidneys that the organization has facilitated is about 800 presently.

A Tel Aviv native, Heber studied at Yeshivas Ponovezh. He leaves a wife Rachel and two children.

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