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  • Halacha
  • Blood and Organ Donation

Organ Donation


Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Cheshvan 20, 5780
What are the critical values, principles and considerations in determining Judaism’s position on organ donation?
ב"ה Shalom This is a multifaceted question, so I will deal with some of the major principles only. One of the he first and foremost values in organ donation is saving a life, which in Judaism is one of the highest value, as the Gemara (Sanhedrin 37a) states: "He who sustains one soul from the Jewish people, the verse ascribes him credit as if he sustained an entire world. " There are different considerations when organ donation is from a live person or from a dead person. When organ donation is done from a live person the considerations are if a person is allowed to inflict himself with a wound. In the context of organ donation the opinion of most Rabbis is, that the giving of an organ is an act of piety and perhaps an obligation, therefore donation an organ is not considered inflicting oneself with a wound. Of course, there is the consideration of bringing oneself into possible danger to save the life of another person who is surely in danger. In regard to organ donation from a dead person there are other considerations. One of the major considerations is, what determines the death of the donor according to Halacha , so that before the decisive stage happens, no organs should be removed because it would be considered murder. The other question at hand is benefitting from the dead, since the Torah forbids benefitting from a corpse. Other issues are , mutilating the corpse, since the Torah forbids mutilating the corpse and there is the issue of postponing burial due to the harvesting of organs. Most of these issues, are superseded when it means saving another persons life. Most of the information here was taken from the Halachic Medical encyclopedia. (I'm not sure if it is available in English.) You may also want to look at the following link which goes into more detail in regard to organ donation from a dead person. All the best
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