"The law includes an innovative clause giving preference to people who sign the donor card should they be in need of an organ transplant in the future"
Two bills aimed at encouraging organ donations were approved by the Knesset on Monday in second and third readings.
The first law on brain and respiratory death states that brain death would be defined as death with all its implications. The bill was approved by 24 Knesset members; five voted against it.
Earlier, the MKs approved a governmental bill on organ donations stating that a person who donated his organs while still alive will receive the status of a chronic patient after giving the donation. Thirty-eight Knesset members voted in favor of this law, while 17 opposed it.
First law: Defining time of death
The issue of defining the time of death was raised in an attempt to encourage the religious public to donate organs. Members of the Knesset's Labor, Welfare and Health Committee sought to reach an agreement with the Chief Rabbinate and rabbinical religious authorities on a definition of the donor's death.
MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima), the bill's initiator, held negotiations over the past few months with different elements in the haredi world and among the religious public before reaching the historic agreement that led to the formation of a law defining brain death.
According to the law, the time of brain-respiratory death will be in a situation when the person is proclaimed dead by two certified doctors, according to fixed parameters (no blood pressure, failure to breathe without need for life support, no response from the pupils and an absence of other reflexes).
The cessation of brain activity will be defined through objective tools (such as the CFM device which tests electric cerebral activity).
The law also defines that the team authorized to proclaim a person dead in any hospital will include at least two senior doctors who have no link whatsoever to organ transplants. These doctors will not treat the patient and will not represent the interests of another patient in need of an organ transplant.
The patient's family will be informed of the fear that their loved one may be brain dead, and the family's opinion regarding the patient's will should be taken into account before proclaiming the patient dead.
MK Schneller told Ynet after the vote, "The Knesset legislated a law today which will cause an education and perceptional change and save many lives.
"All those who supported the law saved many lives. I believe that the entire organ recipient community – and the rest of the public – should be proud that Israel's Knesset approved such a law."
MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism), who voted against the law, said that "according to Jewish law, death is only heart death and not brain death, and that's why I opposed the law."
Second law: Living donor entitled to benefits
The new law states that a living person who donated his organs will receive the status of a chronic patient after the donation is made, and will not have to pay the self-participation fee for any medical service resulting from the donation, in addition to NIS 18,000 (about $5,100) in compensation from the State.
In addition, the donor will be entitled to a recovery of expenses for psychological treatment and a recovery leave, and will receive a merit certificate from the State. The donor will also be exempted from paying the entrance fee to nature reserves and national parks.
The new law prohibits organ trafficking, receiving compensation for organs and mediation in order to receive a donation.
The law includes an innovative clause giving preference to people who sign the donor card should they be in need of an organ transplant in the future.The new law prohibits organ trafficking, receiving compensation for organs and mediation in order to receive a donation.
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