Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Choosing Life

(I didn't come up with the biblical reference, but I like it.)

Our Hillel had a visit last week from the president and founder of the Halachic Organ Donor Society. Did you know that Jews have the lowest percentage of organ donors among all ethnic groups worldwide? If we valued life as much as we claim to, the opposite would be true. Organ donation has been judged halakhikally permissible by R. Moshe Feinstein and many Orthodox authorities after him, as well the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the governing bodies of the Conservative and Reform movements. Some consider it obligatory. Our failure to donate is completely unjustified.

You can register for a donor card here. One of the more important things that I learned from the lecture is that in the United States, it is illegal to harvest a victim's organs without the approval of a spouse or family member. Many Jews oppose organ donation for all sorts of emotional and superstitious reasons, and sometimes because of misconceptions of halakha. If your emergency contact is one of them, your donor card is useless. You have to ask. (If a religious family member needs convincing, refer him or her to this page or this page.)

It's probably a lousy time to bring this up. But then, it usually is. Here's how I try to look at it: we take out insurance to protect ourselves from all sorts of eventualities that we hope will never occur. We don't like to think about these possibilities, and in most cases, the odds are that they will not happen. That doesn't stop us from doing what's necessary to protect ourselves. This is the same thing, except that it's for someone else. That doesn't make it any less urgent.

Full disclosure: DH and I haven't registered for cards. We're troubled by one aspect of the HODS form, which is its requirement that all preparations for transplant be made in consultation with a family-appointed rabbi. This seems like an unnecessary delay. If brain-stem death has been determined by a medical team, and if your family's rabbi views brain-stem death as halakhik death, what can he (or she) possibly have to contribute? (This is a serious question. Anyone?)

One last thing: HODS seems to be trying to arrange for lectures at synagogues, Jewish organizations, and high schools. Those of you in Jewish education and/ or the rabbinate might want to look into that.

Okay, that's all for now. We should all have good health, as they say. Happy Chanukah.

3 comments:

Brother Roy said...

related stuff. If you are interested come and check it out if you get time.

Brother Roy said...

related stuff. If you are interested come and check it out if you get time.

Brother Roy said...

related stuff. If you are interested come and check it out if you get time.