Saturday, March 10, 2007

Jewish Law and Organ Donation Explained

This is an excellent overview of current thoughts on Jewish Law as it applies to organ donation. Rabbi Dr. Goldie Milgram of Reclaiming is the author.

"Living a mitzvah-centered life is the spiritual essence of being a Jew. Organ transplantation and donation were once strongly limited by Jewish law because they were experimental and endangered life, today these are essential, successful medical life-saving methods. Accordingly, organ donation has become a mitzvah chiyuvit, an obligatory mitzvah, fulfilling Judaism’s great mitzvah of pikuakh nefesh, that of saving a life. So long as it will not significantly risk your own life, surgical removal and donation of organs such as a lung or a kidney by a living donor is a mitzvah kiyumit, a praise-worthy but not obligatory mitzvah, since with all surgery there is some danger and distress to the donor."

The article goes on to say "Our tradition treats a cadaver as sacred space not to be viewed or invaded once the soul has moved on and can no longer animate that body in its own personal way. So can a Jewish person’s body really be used after death for medical reasons? Yes, to save a life – as in proving the facts in a murder investigation or to determine a devastating genetic disease pattern, or restore mental health to an extremely distraught family member, then autopsy is allowed. So, now that one can fulfill the mitzvah of saving a life via organ donation, Jewish legal experts reasoned, the primacy of the integrity of a body is most definitely trumped by the mitzvah of saving a life."

Read the full article.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Click Here to Obtain a Donor Card

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