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In Israel, Potential Organ Donors Could Jump the Queue 582

laron writes "In Israel, a new law is in the making: Holders of donor cards and their families would get preference if they should need an organ for themselves. Apparently this initiative faces resistance from Orthodox rabbis, who hold that organ donation is against religious law. Jacob Lavee, director of the heart transplant unit at Israel's Sheba Medical Center, and one of the draftees of this new law, hopes that a broader pool of organs will ultimately benefit everyone, but acknowledges that one of his primary motivations is 'to prevent free riders.' (Apparently receiving an organ is OK under religious law.)"
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In Israel, Potential Organ Donors Could Jump the Queue

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  • Interesting (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Slack0ff ( 590042 ) < minus punct> on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:11AM (#31478582)
    It's always a tough call when you're talking about life and death and major elective surgeries. But I find myself thinking this is a good thing, that makes sense?
  • by OrwellianLurker ( 1739950 ) on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:17AM (#31478600)
    I've been an organ donor since I got my license when I was sixteen. I never really considered that people who WERE NOT organ donors would receive the same treatment in regards to their placement on the the list of people in need of an organ transplant. Total bullshit.
  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:18AM (#31478602)

    It's apparent their time is out, why are the orthodox trying to subvert god's will? Don't they want to go to heaven?

  • Opt-out (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:22AM (#31478620)

    I never understood why organ donation is opt-in rather than opt-out.

    I can understand having religious convictions not to be a donor but the default ought to be "your organs are up for grabs"

  • awesome (Score:4, Interesting)

    by story645 ( 1278106 ) <> on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:24AM (#31478622) Journal

    Maybe this will open up more discussion of the religious permissibility of organ donations, which is a topic that's nowhere near as black and white as some people make it out to be. Plenty of orthodox rabbis also say donating is permissible (as far as I've heard from members of the New York ultra-orthodox contingent) in a lot of circumstances, but their voices seem to get drowned out far too often. I'd love to see some real discussion of the topic, so while yeah the measure is radical, it's also kind of brilliant. It's also an interesting approach to tackling the religious/secular divide in Israel, which makes the American one look downright friendly.

  • by dushkin ( 965522 ) on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:31AM (#31478650) Homepage

    Oh yeah. It's everywhere.

    For instance around late March and early April we'll have passover. It's forbidden to eat anything yeasty or something like that on passover, so no beer, whiskey or more importantly: bread.

    See, I always bring a sandwich with me to work and eat at my desk. It's what I do. I like having my sandwich for lunch because I don't feel like heading to the kitchen. But now I'll have to find an alternative because my office is apparently supposed to be kept kosher for passover.

    Nobody honestly cares in my department, and not in any of the neighboring departments, and not my boss(es).

    How can I have my sandwich without bread? :(

  • Re:crazy hypocrites (Score:5, Interesting)

    by story645 ( 1278106 ) <> on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:41AM (#31478682) Journal

    oppressing women

    The funny thing about the far right Jews is that most of the guys are in some form of learning program, so the women are often the primary breadwinners. This leads to the average Jewish woman on the far right having more education and job training than her husband.

  • Seems fine... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Entropius ( 188861 ) on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:47AM (#31478712)

    Normal rules of ethics dictate that the commons should be more willing to help someone out if they're willing to donate to the commons too. This is related to the idea behind the GPL. If you have two friends who are short a buck for lunch, you're more likely to give your only dollar to the one who's more likely to spot you when you come up short.

    Just because organ donation is a matter of life and death doesn't mean that it plays by any different rules than "ordinary" ethics -- it just means the stakes for getting it right are that much higher. The commons should encourage people to contribute /to/ the commons, thereby enriching everyone, and rules like this are just one way to do it.

    And this sort of ethics is independent of anyone's primitive superstitions. Superstitions are fine -- believe whatever you want -- but don't expect reality to change to suit them.

  • Re:crazy hypocrites (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tom90deg ( 1190691 ) <> on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:47AM (#31478714) Homepage

    It's always very difficult when religion and medicine clash. If you're a doctor, chances are good that at some point, someone will refuse treatment because of their religious beliefs. Most of the time it's "Whatever, you'll be in pain for the next two weeks, but that's your choice." but it's gets much much harder if say, a little girl is brought in with a fever that's getting worse. "No problem, give her some basic meds, and she'll be good to go." you'd think, and then her parents show up and say, "You can't give her any medication." And you know that without it, the girl WILL die, or at best have severe brain damage. Try to explain this to the parents, and they just say, "It's our beliefs, no medicine can be given." And legally, you can't do anything, and if you DO give the girl medicaiton and save her life, you can and will be sued for malpractice.

    I don't mind religion, so long as it doesn't harm anyone, but people who would actually think, "We would rather our child die then be given medicine." I just don't understand.

  • Re:Sounds fair (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:44AM (#31478922)

    Sounds great to me. I'd extend it to blood donors, with quantity donated moving you further up.

    I'd support this, provided we eliminated the discrimination present in various countries' blood donation rules. It's still legal for groups such as the Red Cross to discriminate against homosexuals, reinforcing the view of risk-taking sexual behaviour being prevalent only in the homosexual community, and not the populus at large.

    This is just silly. My wife was a floor nurse for many years. She had a needle stick while taking care of an AIDS patient in the early 1980s, and has been excluded from giving blood ever since. Why on earth should someone like her should be lower in the queue than some blowhard from Slashdot? Have you ever taken care of people dying from a yet-little-understood disease?

  • by Dr.Syshalt ( 702491 ) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:59AM (#31479006)

    You might save a life.

    ...Or you might lose your own life [] in some circumstances as well.

  • by Third Position ( 1725934 ) on Monday March 15, 2010 @04:28AM (#31479162)

    Organs are huge $$$ you never know if doctors would be less willing to try and save your ass from dieing by prematurely transitioning into organ harvesting mode. (Brrraaaiinnnnsssss!!)

    Yes. Which is particularly salient since we're talking about Israel. []

  • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Monday March 15, 2010 @04:31AM (#31479188) Homepage Journal

    All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree.
    Albert Einstein

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday March 15, 2010 @04:44AM (#31479240)

    Someone hand that guy an interesting mod. This is actually interesting.

    It's true, pretty much the whole Torah goes out the window the moment a life is at stake. It needn't even be yours, when you may only as much as possibly save a life you're not only allowed but actually required to put the religious laws behind that.

    Donating an organ can easily save a life. Not donating would actually be very wrong.

  • by ars ( 79600 ) <assd2@dsgml . c om> on Monday March 15, 2010 @04:52AM (#31479274) Homepage

    Jews do not believe it's wrong to donate. What they believe is that, as long as a persons heart is beating they are alive.

    Meaning: They believe it's wrong to murder someone to harvest organs.

    Others believe that after brain death the person is dead, and it's not murder.

    The argument is not over organ donation, which even the strictest rabbi agrees with.

    The argument is over the definition of death, since most organ donation are done after brain, but not cardiac, death.

  • Re:Opt-out (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Monday March 15, 2010 @05:01AM (#31479326)
    In Australia we went backwards.
    In at least one state there was a box to tick on the form to apply for or renew a drivers licence that said something like "do you want to be an organ donor". Most people agreed and had it written right there on the drivers licence for a doctor to read whether they were donating your organs or not.
    That changed and now there is a more complex process to sign up and a more complex process to identify potential organ donors.
  • by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Monday March 15, 2010 @05:36AM (#31479532)
    There was a story a couple months ago [] about a bunch of cyclists in Brooklyn who tried to repaint some bike lanes there. The city had sandblasted them away at the request of Hasidic Jews who complained that bike lanes attracted female cyclists with huge boobies.

    Groups of bicycle-riding vigilantes have been repainting 14 blocks of Williamsburg roadways ever since the city sandblasted their bike lanes away last week at the request of the Hasidic community.

    The Hasids, who have long had a huge enclave in the now-artist-haven neighborhood, had complained that the Bedford Avenue bike paths posed both a safety and religious hazard.

    Scantily clad hipster cyclists attracted to the Brooklyn neighborhood made it difficult, the Hasids said, to obey religious laws forbidding them from staring at members of the opposite sex in various states of undress. These riders also were disobeying the traffic laws, they complained.

    Two cycling advocates were apprehended by the Shomrim Patrol, a Hasidic neighborhood watch group, as they repainted a section of bike lane at 3:30 a.m. yesterday, but when cops arrived, no one was arrested and no summonses were issued, police said.

    "These people should apply for a job at the DOT," neighborhood activist Isaac Abraham said of the repainting. "You put it on, they take it off -- and they will probably do this again."

    A Department of Transportation spokesman said: "We will continue to work with any community on ways we can make changes to our streets without compromising safety."

    A source close to Mayor Bloomberg said removing the lanes was an effort to appease the Hasidic community just before last month's election.

    Abraham contends the bike lanes put children at risk of getting hit by cars or bicycles as they exited school buses.

    But Baruch Herzfeld, who has tried to bridge the gap between hipsters and Hasids with a bike-rental program, said safety is not the issue so much as xenophobia.

    "They don't want the hipsters in their neighborhood," he said. "It's like in Howard Beach back in the day when they didn't want black people in the neighborhood."

    The cycling advocacy group Transportation Alternatives has not taken sides in the dispute.

    But bike lane or not, "cyclists have a right to be on Bedford Avenue," said Wiley Norvell, a group spokesman.

    (First of all, to clear up the nitpick: "But you don't need a bike lane to ride down the street!" It's there to keep people from running you over, not to give you legal sanction to use the street.) What's amazing here is that an American city outside Utah acquiesced to demands that a piece of public infrastructure be degraded, on the basis of someone's religious objections to women who are not covered. It was a boneheaded decision to enforce values of a single religious group upon the public at large.

    In Israel, where I presume there are no bike lanes, there is clearly not the messy separation of church and state that exists here (for now). Maybe it's fine there for religous law to dictate secular law. But there isn't much organ donation in Israel because of people's religious beliefs. An "opt-out" system isn't discriminatory in any way, but the same sort of people who got the City of New York to sandblast its bike lanes are the ones who will claim discrimination.

  • Loopholes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gd2shoe ( 747932 ) on Monday March 15, 2010 @06:02AM (#31479690) Journal

    Rich and arrogant Jews* have been doing this forever. A quick glance through the New Testament is proof of this. (Even if one doesn't hold it to be scripture, it really is ancient.) Rich people of all religions seem to do it, but wealthy Jews seem to have a knack for it.

    *(With very strong emphasis on "rich and arrogant". One of my closest friends from High School is a practicing Jew and I have no patience for antisemitism.)

    I'm not sure what drives the transplant double standard. Reiterating ancient nonsense** that doesn't reasonably stem from scripture (but is tradition) is forgivable, even understandable. Making up fresh contradictions is only amusing when lives aren't on the line.

    **(It happens sometimes. I heard some today in my church. Let's stay calm, please.)

    The following (from the article) is probably part of it:

    But it has also raised resistance from within Israel's ultra-Orthodox Jewish minority... Most leading Orthodox rabbis — as well as Israeli law — agree that a person dies when his brain-stem stops functioning. A minority opinion, endorsed by Elyashiv, holds that as long as a person's heart beats he or she is alive and therefore the organs cannot be harvested. Donation in Israel after cardiac death is rare and only done in special circumstances.

    It's still a double standard. If you can accept such a donation, you can give such a donation. I agree with you: God certainly knows where that organ came from. (He also won't blame recipients who were not conscious when the decision was made. etc.)

    (Most transplants in Israel are done while the donor's heart is still beating!?!?! Am I misreading this?)

    Final disclaimer: I'm posting while quite tired. I know I shouldn't. The above certainly contains mistakes. Perhaps egregious ones.

  • Re:Orthodox rabbis? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Roman Kalik ( 1634843 ) on Monday March 15, 2010 @06:28AM (#31479856)
    Read the article first linked, it is actually clear enough. The issue is *not* whether or not organ donation is good or bad (in Judaism, it's good, and expected, by definition - it saves lives, and human life is above pretty much the rest of the religion in Judaism). The issue is about how the organs are recovered, and unlike how the article claims it, it isn't merely an issue with Rabbi Eliashiv being the minority view. The problem is entirely with a conflict between the medicinal and religious definition of death. Judaism generally holds that the heart must stop beating for complete death to occur. Current medical standards hold that brain death is more than enough to recognize death. So donating organs that don't require you to, you know, continue to function as a living person, those were never in question. The problem is that the donor card gives Israel's medical authorities permission to harvest your still-warm body (has to be as close to death for the organs to be useful). In fact, the problem is further complicated when some doctors bend the definition of brain death, in itself a definition that is not clear across international borders, and which saw particular misuse in the UK. That donor card is basically an encouragement to keep the heart beating and, for that matter, possibly skim the correct definition of death. To balance the need of one dying man against the need of many people needing organs. And that's a fairly problematic and delicate situation. The matter in Israel would have been resolved by now if medical authorities were willing to reassure potential religious Jewish donors that they won't have their bodies harvested in a matter not in accordance with their beliefs, by allowing the formation of decision boards that would also comprise of Rabbis - said boards would ultimately decide on organ harvesting, which would help mitigate fears religious donors have of having such matters done in a manner against their beliefs. That's all there is to it. But last time such a board was (almost) formed, medical authorities broke the accords, refusing to let anyone in on deciding such matters as time of death other than themselves. But the thing is - death isn't just a physical matter. And so long as there are people who don't hold purely physical beliefs, they're unlikely to put their final fate completely and utterly in the hands of those who have a completely different set of core values and beliefs - no matter how well-meaning those people may be.
  • Re:crazy hypocrites (Score:5, Interesting)

    by demonlapin ( 527802 ) on Monday March 15, 2010 @07:13AM (#31480124) Homepage Journal
    If it's a life-saving procedure on a minor, you can very easily do something about it legally. Have the hospital lawyers get a court order. We do it for Jehovah's Witnesses' children and blood on a reasonably frequent basis.
  • Re:Opt-out (Score:3, Interesting)

    by demonlapin ( 527802 ) on Monday March 15, 2010 @07:15AM (#31480130) Homepage Journal
    Legally, once you die, your corpse belongs to your next of kin. You can write a will so that they get no money if they don't donate the organs, but you can't really force them to donate.
  • by John Guilt ( 464909 ) on Monday March 15, 2010 @07:49AM (#31480322)
    Breath animated Adam; the word for the human-level spirit 'ruakh' (as opposed to the animal and divine spirits) is related to breath, air, or wind, like the Sanskrit 'atman', cognate to the Greek 'atmos'. Basically, you become an human being when you first draw breath. And it used to be a lot easier to tell when someone had stopped breathing than when their heart had stopped beating, especially in a body-taboo--rich, culture.
  • Re:Hey guise (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Monday March 15, 2010 @08:17AM (#31480466) Homepage Journal

    You actually need to check on what you're talking about. Seriously. There are at least two documentaries "out there" somewhere, in which today's modern engineering big shots have voiced opinions that they couldn't build a pyramid in the time frame in which the various pyramids were built. Not for any amount of money. Using the methods commonly used in building our modern skyscrapers, they couldn't move those huge blocks of stone from the bottom to the top. I won't swear to it, but I believe that one of those documentaries was done by the Discovery channel.

    Oh, they could build a pyramid SIMILAR to those in Egypt - using concrete. But, they can't move those huge stones, as the Egyptians did.

    Can YOU come up with a method of moving those tons of rock, that doesn't require electricity, or gasoline or diesel power?

    There is at least one guy on the internet who thinks he has solved the problem. In his case, money might be the problem in building a pyramid on a grand scale. The rest? They don't have the skills, or even the knowledge needed to build those skills.

    Much lesser feats of engineering have baffled out best minds for years. Another documentary was running on Discovery or History channel several months ago, in which some people attempted to match one of the Caesar's crossing of one river or another. Those Romans moved an entire army across a river between dusk and dawn, and our people today worked on the problem of building that bridge within such a short time frame for YEARS.

    So much knowledge was lost during the dark ages, and the subsequent crusades.

  • by Philip K Dickhead ( 906971 ) <> on Monday March 15, 2010 @10:41AM (#31481880) Journal

    Which is why they "harvest" them from murdered Palestinian children.

    "Doctor admits Israeli pathologists harvested organs without consent" []

    ""It was the middle of the night. The soldiers caused an electrical power outage in the entire village. Bilal was returned in a black bag; he had no teeth. The body was stitched from the neck all the way down to the abdomen," the Swedish newspaper quoted the mother as saying."

    "Swedish daily publishes second article on 'IDF organ harvesting' ",7340,L-3765992,00.html []

    Only the devil dares not to speak the name of God - which invokes the grace of divine presence.

  • Re:crazy hypocrites (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Monday March 15, 2010 @12:13PM (#31483042) Homepage

    First, I agree with you, but I'll go ahead and toss something really controversial and maybe burn some karma:

    How is a society that allows children to die from parental withholding of medication any different than a society that allows children to grow up into a life of crime, or poverty, or obesity, or any number of other things that can happen to kids because they don't have great parents?

    Withholding of medicine is an easy target, but the fact is that society is quite content to let kids fail in numerous ways simply for being born to the wrong parents. The problem is that fixing this is EXTREMELY difficult if not impossible - it isn't just a matter of throwing a moderate amount of money at the problem. Avoiding the problem is also highly repugnant to most people since the only way to avoid it is to mandate contraception implants for everybody unless you have a breeding license, or abort children post-conception (and figure out what to do with kids that manage to survive past birth).

    In reality, the odd kid that dies from treatable pneumonia makes the news but is a blip in the statistics. The real problem (size-wise) is the millions of kids who go on to live in slums or prisons. As a society we seem to be willing to accept a LOT of the latter but none of the former, and I'm not sure it really has anything to do with being genuinely interested in child welfare.

  • by Philip K Dickhead ( 906971 ) <> on Monday March 15, 2010 @04:18PM (#31487042) Journal

    What are the pernicious lies used to kill tens of thousands of Palestinians, reduce the rest to wretched sub-human conditions - in a policy of theft and subjugation on a scale that makes historical South African Apartheid look like paradise on earth?

    Is hating Israel a greater crime than Israeli murder of civilian Arabs? With illegal chemical weapons? Then robbing organs for transplant, because donating them violates the Satanic religious laws of the orthodox?

    If people hate Israel, it is because that hate sates that represent the tyrant, the murderer, the bigot and the pirate.

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin