Ending a Paradox: Israel’s New Approach to Organ Donation

Organ donation has been a controversial subject for many people. In America, it is “estimated that 18 patients on the waiting list in America die every day” (Ofrim 1). Americans rely on altruism, which means that we have to patiently wait for the death of a kind person who has chosen to donate their organs.

Other countries like Spain and Austria have an “opt-out approach”, which means that once a person dies it is assumed that they are an organ donor unless they state otherwise (Ofrim 1). However, Israel was ranked at the bottom of Western countries on organ donation until recently (Ofrim 1). This is partly due to Jewish law because it

…proscribes desecration of the dead, which has been interpreted by many to mean that Judaism prohibits organ donation. Additionally, there were rabbinic issues surrounding the concept of brain death, the state in which organs are typically harvested. As a result, many patients died waiting for organs (Ofrim 2).

This prompted Israel to create a new system created by Dr. Jacob Lavee, a cardiothoracic surgeon, that would “give transplant priority to patients who have agreed to donate their organs. In doing it has become the first country in the world to incorporate ‘nonmedical’ criteria into the priority system, through medical necessity would still be the first priority” (Ofrim 2).

The new law which will be in effect this year, states that “if two patients have identical medical needs for an organ transplant, priority will be given to the patient who has signed a donor card, or whose family member has donated an organ in the past” (Ofrim 2). There is also a huge campaign surrounding this law and Israel has seen the consent rate from families steadily increase and transplants have also increased by more than 60% over all this year.

Rabin Medical Center has plenty of success with its dedicated Transplant Center:

During the month of February there was a major milestone for liver transplants in one week at Israel’s Rabin Medical Center and at The Schneider Children’s Hospital. Prof. Eytan Mor, Head of Transplantation Department at Rabin Medical Center and at The Schneider Children’s Hospital: ‘We’ve never performed liver transplants day after day for an entire full week.’

Organ transplant patients at Rabin Medical Center
Organ transplant patients at Rabin Medical Center

If you want more information about the Transplant Centercontact afrmc@afrmc.org or visit our website: www.afrmc.org . Lastly, if you would like to donate $5 to Global Medicine click here.

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