Chaya Lipschutz is a 52-year-old Orthodox Jew with a peculiar passion: Being a "kidney matchmaker." If you're in need of an organ, or you're looking to give yours to a stranger, she's your girl. She's sort of the Patti Stranger of the altruistic set.
Lipschutz doesn't make any money from connecting givers and receivers. Nor is she super professional about it -- her website looks a teensy bit, um, retro -- and she works out of a home, where she lives with her mother. But over the past four years she's fielded calls from hundreds of people -- from Israel to England -- who are looking for a match. She asks for their blood type and then digs into her contacts.
Several months ago, she got a call from a Florida woman who needed help. She found the right person and then phoned Jackson Memorial Hospital, one of the world's largest centers for organ donations.
She was stunned by their policy. A person accepting an organ, she learned, must know their donor for more thana year. No kindness from strangers allowed. "Florida is like another world," Lipschutz says. "It was so terribly shocking."
She's now pushing for state legislation that would require hospitals to accept altruistic donors.
So two weeks ago, she posted an ad on Miami's Craigslist championing her cause. It read:
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"What kind of a crazy policy is this???? Shame on Jackson Memorial who is behind the times. Your help is needed to help save more lives! With the change, more lives will be saved!
The reason for Jackson's policy is unclear --a spokesperson didn't respond to questions by press time -- but the rule is shared by dozens of hospitals in Florida. It's likely intended to prevent people from buying and selling organs, which is illegal.
Lipschutz is unfazed. "I am begging for help," she says. "On behalf of those in need of a life-saving kidney!"