After a year-long investigation, the State Attorney closed a court file against Rav Yeshayahu Haber of Yerushalayim, head of the Matnat Chaim kidney group that has matched 550 donors with people in kidney failure since 2009.
“It was a very, very difficult time,” Rav Haber told News 2. “The great difficulty in this period was mainly the insult felt by the kidney donors.”
In September 2017, he was accused of given precedence to people needing transplants according to the size of their donations, which counts as organ trafficking. He and three workers were arrested. He was also falsely accused of only helping Jews.
“Hundreds were interrogated, and it was clarified beyond any doubt that there was no monetary compensation,” Rav Haber added.
Asked if he had any idea who was behind the accusation, he said, “I had more than an idea, I knew. I could go around with a grudge for being wronged. Just think, there are people who earn a million shekels for a kidney in third world countries, and I distribute them for free.”
“There was a moment when I felt broken by the difficult period of the interrogation and couldn’t continue any longer,” he said. “Next day, at six in the morning, I got a call from a woman who sobbed that her son heard that I was under investigation and lost hope of getting a transplant. The only hope that kept him going with a desire to live was our promise we would help him.
“I told her to give me her son on the phone. He barely agreed to talk to me. Then I promised him, ‘I promise you that I won’t close until you get a transplant.’ About a month ago, boruch Hashem, I found him a donor and he had a transplant.”
“It hurts a lot,” a kidney recipient said of the investigation. “Look, the Health Ministry provides us with no solutions, and he is the only person in Israel who does.”
Rav Haber began his project after undergoing a transplant himself 11 years ago. His supporters during the past year included Rav Chaim Kanievsky, Chief Rabbi Rav Dovid Lau, doctors and the hundreds he has saved.