Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Religion and deceased donation in Israel

The NY Times accompanies its story on kidney brokers with one on why deceased donation is complicated in Israel
A Clash of Religion and Bioethics Complicates Organ Donation in Israel

The story begins with a photo from the funeral of the soccer player Avi Cohen, who was a registered organ donor at the time of his death, but whose organs weren't donated when religious objections to brain death were raised.

" In the Book of Genesis, it is written that when the great flood submerged the land it extinguished “all in whose nostrils was the breath of life.” Across nearly 2,000 years of Talmudic debate, Jewish scholars have returned to that verse in holding that life ends at the moment when breathing stops. One 19th-century code instructed that if a person appeared lifeless, a light feather was to be placed before his nose: “If it does not flutter,” the text advised, “he is certainly dead.”
The sages could not have anticipated that their writings would provide the underpinnings for cultural resistance to organ donation from the deceased in 21st-century Israel. But their definition of mortality, which can conflict with modern acceptance of brain death, is cited among several reasons Israel has among the lowest rates of deceased organ donation of any developed country."

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