Monday, July 25, 2011

More on deceased organ donation in Israel

In an earlier post I wrote about the recent Israeli legislation giving priority for deceased donor organs to those who have themselves registered as potential donors. Now, Haaretz reports on some difficulties that may present themselves in implementing the law as intended: Officials: New donor cards will reduce organ transplants

"Health officials are worried that the Knesset will authorize changes to organ donor cards that would move certain people up the waiting list for transplants without increasing the overall number of transplants. The officials are putting the blame on religious groups.

"In the current format, a potential donor may condition a donation on the decision of a clergyman of the family's choice.

""But MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima ) has put forth a bill to be sent to the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee. The bill would amend Article 28 of the organ transplant law of May 2008. Potential donors would be able to specify a religious figure or rabbinical committee that would approve an organ donation after the person's death.

"Over the past year, changes have been made that allow the health authorities to give preference in the transplant waiting list to anyone who signs an organ donor card.

"Health officials suspect that the proposed legislation is part of an effort by religious groups to bypass the system. In effect, people who do not genuinely intend to donate organs would receive preferential treatment while on the waiting list for a transplant. Their religious patron would then veto the organ donation if the person dies.

"A senior source in the medical establishment says that "this proposal may significantly curtail organ transplants in Israel."

"The privilege of being moved up on the waiting list if one is a donor is meant to go into effect in January for everyone who signs the donor card by then. The privilege can be exercised only three years after signing the card.
"The tension between the rabbis and doctors over organ transplants dates to 1986, when the Chief Rabbinate demanded that a religious representative be present when determining brain death. Only in 2009 was legislation on brain death approved, after a compromise forged by Schneller. The law requires that brain death be determined by a medical committee and objective machine-based data.

"Still, the Chief Rabbinate refused to acknowledge that brain death is a condition that allows for organs to be donated and transplanted."

HT: Maya Bar Hillel and Assaf Romm

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