29 year old Vicka Kostakovsky was an Israeli girl who suffered from cystic fibrosis. At age 26, her entire body, specifically her lungs, deteriorated significantly, and she was in desperate need of a lung transplant. For months Vicka remained in a comatose state, while her family anxiously awaited a lung donation. After three years in her impaired state, Vicka died from lung failure. Research conducted after Vicka’s death revealed that many Israelis are unable to receive life-saving organs because most people living in that country are unwilling to be organ donors upon their death (Israelis Dying).
According to the New York Organ Donor Network, 45% of Americans have organ donor cards, ...view middle of the document...
The complex halachos may be the cause of Orthodox Jews’ hesitation to donate an organ. Does halakhah pose any restrictions on live organ donation? If so, how might those laws impact decisions to participate in live donations? How does halacha influence Orthodox Jews in their decisions about whether or not to donate their organs post-mortem? Why does HODS believe that Orthodox Jews are permitted, or even required to donate their organs?
When a person has a failing organ, doctors can treat the patient by surgically removing a healthy organ from another person and inserting it into the sick person. There are two types of organ donations: surgeries carried out while the donor is alive, and those performed post-mortem. Certain organs, such as the kidneys or segments of other organs, can be donated while the donor is living, but most major organs, including the heart, lungs, liver and pancreas can only be donated by a deceased person.
One can become an organ donor after death by signing a donor card during his lifetime. This card that is carried on the person at all times, and it authorizes the use of organs after death. Alternately, one can indicate the information on his driver’s license. When a cardholder dies, consent will be received from the donor’s family and the organ can then be surgically removed and transplanted into a recipient.
In order to become an organ recipient, it is first necessary for a doctor to apply on behalf of his patient for the person to be granted a position on the national waiting list. A team of transplant doctors then examines the patient to determine the necessity of a transplant. If the patient fits the criteria, he can officially be placed on the list. When an organ becomes available, the recipient is chosen based on a variety of factors, including the compatibility of blood and tissue types, the size of the organ needed, the urgency of the patient’s illness, the length of time the recipient already spent on the waiting list and the physical distance between the donor and the recipient (Organ Donation and Transplantation).
The Gift of Life Donor Program, an organ procurement organization (OPO), explains that the United States is divided into 11 regions. Each region is served by its own OPO. When an organ becomes available to an OPO, first priority is given to patients in the hospitals within that organization’s region. If doctors determine that no patients in that region can use the organ, it is offered to patients served by other OPOs. This system was put into effect to decrease the amount of time between the death of a donor and the transplant surgery, because the faster a transplant procedure can be performed, the higher the chance of the success of the surgery. Researchers have also discovered that people are more likely to become organ donors if they know that their donation will benefit someone in their community. The Gift of Life Donor Program emphasizes that “factors such as a patient's income,...