In Israel, a New Approach to Organ Donation
Israel recently passed a law: if two patients have identical medical needs for an organ transplant, priority will be given to the patient who has signed a donor card, or whose family member has donated an organ in the past.
This was spearheaded by Dr. Jacob Lavee who told the following story:
In 2005, he had two ultra-Orthodox, Haredi Jewish patients on his ward who were awaiting heart transplants. The patients confided in him that they would never consider donating organs, in accordance with Haredi Jewish beliefs, but that they had absolutely no qualms about accepting organs from others.
That Haredi Jews would not donate organs was a well-known fact in Israel. But this was the first time anyone had openly admitted the paradox to Dr. Lavee.
The unfairness of a segment of society unwilling to donate organs, but happy to accept them, nagged at Dr. Lavee. After he operated on both patients, giving each a new lease on life, he put together a proposal that would give priority to those patients willing to donate their organs.
This raises a very big moral/ethical question. If you really believe that taking a heart from a brain dead patient is murder how can you accept it? In essence the doctors are killing the donor to save you, as the Gemara says why is your blood redder then his?