PROBLEM: Not enough people worldwide are donating their organs – while alive and dead – to help those in need. According to Public Radio International (PRI), “in the United States alone, more than 100,000 people are waiting for organ donations, and many of these patients will die waiting.”
ISRAEL’S SOLUTION: PRI reports that this month, Israel’s new organ donation incentive law comes into effect. To boost its number of organ donors, the law gives priority to donors over non-donors when it comes to receiving an organ.
Basically, if you’re willing to give up your own body part, you’re deserving enough to get the privilege of another’s. In fact, due to your personal mitzvah, the priority even extends to your family – to first degree relatives of those who have signed donor cards, to first degree relatives of those who have died and given organs, and to live donors of a kidney, liver lobe or lung lobe who have donated for as yet undesignated recipients.
Don’t worry, new law or not, Medical News Today reports that a patient in “urgent need of a heart, lung, or liver transplant due to their serious condition will continue to receive priority.” But… if two such people need the same organ, then the priority status kicks in.
What do YOU think?
Do you agree with Israel’s incentive program? How would you ethically address the organ problem here in the United States? Do you think there’s a Jewish perspective on this issue?
It is a good idea, actually, a great idea.
It is absolutely a very jewish thing to do and a wonderful mitzva at that.
I thought I heard somewhere that a jew’s body is supposed to be buried in its entirety — with all parts there (hence, ZAKA). No?
I think it’s fantastic! What’s not to like? It especially makes sense in light of some Orthodox folks’ belief that they can’t donate organs because they want to be “whole” when the Messiah comes. (Although I’ve always been baffled as to how the Messiah can bring folks back to the dead but NOT be able to replace an organ here and there. Can anyone explain that for me?) If you think it would be a problem for you to come back without an organ, why would you wish the same disaster on another? If you wouldn’t give, but would take from another, you have violated the rules, not only of Judaism as far as I know, but of human decency. Bravo, Israeli government, and I wish more things worked this way!
Um, I meant “back from the dead.”
Mike and Ellen,
Actually, orthodox Judaism supports organ donation under the tenant “pikuach nefesh” meaning that a law can be broken to save a life. Though I can’t speak for all orthodox, vast majority would support organ donation because it directly saves a life. A more subtle question that orthodoxy is split on is whether one can donate their body to science (e.g. to have their body used for a medical school’s anatomy class) because no life is directly saved. Some food for thought…
Anyhow, I think Israel’s new law is brilliant and a perfect application of pikuach nefesh.