Donation of Organs



Kewod HaRav,

in my country Holland we are faced with a growing popular movement, which wants to legalize physician assisted suicide and euthanasia. On top of it, a law has been made by the House of Representatives, which will make every citizen an automatic donor of his of her organs. What does our Halacha has to say about these related topics? Our fear is that human life will be artificially extended or terminated, in order to harvest the organs of a human being.

Kind regards,
Meir Schrover.


To the Questioner,

This is terrible news.

As Jews we have an obligation to do whatever is possible in order to lengthen human life, even if that lenthening is only for a limited amount of time (Orach Chaim 329:4). Therefore, euthenasia would be prohibited - except in very extreme situations (and even then only when authorized by an authoratative Halachic authority and on an individual basis).

Donation of organs is also prohibited until the time of passing has been clearly determined and declared based upon the Jewish Halachic definition of what defines life and what defines passing. Since secular medical professionals are accustomed to remove organs immediately once passing has been declared according to secular hospital standards, often what could occur is that if the organs are removed before the moment which is considered passing according to Jewish Halachic sources, it would be considered equivalent to bringing about the passing before its time, which is, in a sense, equivalent to murder.

Jewish political activists in Holland should therefore try whatever legal methods they can utalize, in order to nullify this decree.

May we hear of good tidings and merit to see the value of human life maintained by the nations of the world,