Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Family Sues Hospital For Allegedly "Killing" Son For Organ Donation Purposes

Although we may not know the facts of the situation yet, a story has come out which may strengthen the fears of those who oppose organ donation because they suspect that doctors may take organs before halachic death has occurred. There is an impressive list of Rebbeim who advocate "halachic organ donation" through the Halachic Organ Donation Society and it will be interesting to note whether such stories will have any effect on the issue in the frum community.

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micha berger said...

HODS supports people who hold by heart death as well as those who hold by brain stem death. I don't think that's a real term; it's something used in Jewish discussions to mean not enough brain function to support heartbeat. That's brain-death as defined in a manner consistent with sources telling you to check heart beat.

However, it is later than brain death as typically defined US state law. I am therefore pretty sure any of these horror stories should not change their attitude. And besides, in this case, the doctor didn't even wait for that either. It's like pointing to Joel Steinberg, who kidnapped Lisa a"h claiming to be an adoption lawyer who had a home for her, and using it in a case against adoption.


Star said...

I think the hospital are more qualified than the parents to state whether brain death had occured or not.

It seems to me the parents are grieving and want someone to blame but they seem to have a lack of understanding about brain death and organ donation. For organ donation the donor needs to be kept in a state in which the organs still function. However this is artificially created by life support, the body cannot survive for itself without the machines. This does not mean the person can recover it just means life is being simulated by machines.

Doctors have no reason to kill a patient for organs, it breaks their hypocratic oath, it breaks human principles and on a professional level, it looks bad on their statistics.

Menashe said...


From my understanding, if the organs are still functioning, machines or not (most importantly brain and/or lungs), then the patient is halachically alive and it is osur according to most poskim to take any steps to worsen the patient's condition.

That's why (in my opinion) HODS has little support among Torah observant Jewry. It's very difficult to justify organ donation in most cases from a halachic perspective.