Since 2000, one [organ] trafficking prosecution after the next has implicated Israelis in some way. Although recent legal changes have made it less enticing for Israelis to seek transplants overseas, they have contributed to longer wait lists at home. That has kept organ brokers in business.…“The continued driving force is the lack of deceased donation in Israel and the concept that every rich person worldwide would rather put a stranger at risk than a relative.”
Above: An Israel organ trafficking ad in Russian, aimed at non-Jewish live donors
The New York Times has a new report on the abysmally low rate of organ donation in Israel:
…Since 2000, one [organ] trafficking prosecution after the next has implicated Israelis in some way. Although recent legal changes have made it less enticing for Israelis to seek transplants overseas, they have contributed to longer wait lists at home. That has kept organ brokers in business.…
“The continued driving force is the lack of deceased donation in Israel and the concept that every rich person worldwide would rather put a stranger at risk than a relative,” said Dr. Jeremy R. Chapman, an Australian nephrologist and past president of the Transplantation Society.
Despite its advanced medical infrastructure, Israel trails comparable countries in most measures of organ donation. In 2012, it had 7.4 deceased donors per million population, ranking it in the bottom third of countries surveyed by the Council of Europe. The rate was 18.5 in Britain, 25.8 in the United States and 35.1 in Spain.…
“The general mentality of the public, and of many rabbis, is that they don’t see why people should risk their lives if there is somebody in Ecuador willing to sell them a kidney,” said Dr. Yechiel Michael Barilan, an Israeli physician whose book, “Jewish Bioethics,” was published this year. “There is no sensibility about the social dynamics of exploitation.”…
In 2006, responding to reports that Israelis were buying kidneys in places like China and the Philippines, the Health Ministry prohibited insurers from paying for illicit overseas transplants. In 2008, the Israeli Parliament passed legislation that criminalized organ brokering and established panels to scrutinize whether donors are being compensated. It also provided for government payments for a donor’s medical care and related monetary losses.
And in a unique move, the law authorized the Health Ministry to give preferential status on transplant wait lists to registered donors and those who have consented to a relative’s donation.
“It is deviating from pure altruism to reciprocal altruism,” said Dr. Jacob Lavee, a heart transplant surgeon who helped shape the law.
A second law established protocol for determining brain death and gave rabbis seats on a committee that monitors doctors who make those decisions.
The signs of improvement include a record 261 kidney transplants last year, driven by a significant increase in living donor transplants. There has been a corresponding drop in the number of patients who are known to have gone abroad, to 43 in 2013 from a peak of 155 in 2006. Donor registrations have increased by two-thirds.
But other results have disappointed. The kidney transplant wait list of about 750 people is 40 percent longer than when the laws passed. And the rate at which families refuse to donate a relative’s organs — about 50 percent — is virtually unchanged. The refusals meant 260 lost donation opportunities over the last four years.…
All of the issues the Times report covers have been reported by FailedMessiah.com and other sources many times before.
The Times report is very good, but it fails to report several things that are important.
First of all, the vast majority of haredi rabbis has deemed taking organs from a brain stem dead person "murder" and has done more than just oppose it – they have tried to get rabbis who disagree with that position fired, have encouraged mass protests against them and have covered the walls and bus stops of Jerusalem and other cities with posters calling organ donation "murder."
Almost every Israeli hospital has at least one rabbi on staff and that rabbi is almost always a follower of one of these haredi rabbis who equate organ donation with murder. When someone is, saidly, brain stem dead, it is one of thse rabbis who provides the first rabbinic contact for the patient's family.
The Times talks about a pro-organ-donation decision made by Israel's chief rabbis in 1986 without explaining the those chief rabbis were Zionist Orthodox, not haredi. And it quotes former Sefardi haredi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar in support of organ donation without ever discussing the threats and attacks against him from the haredi majority.
The Times fails to report that the organization that controls organ transplantation in Europe at one point banned Israelis from receiving organ transplants there because Israel took organs but really never provided any to the EU in return. The Times also doesn't report that the US counterpart of that organization seriously considered doing the same for the same reasons, and this is what forced Israel to take some steps to facilitate organ donation and cut back on illegal trafficking.
And worst of all, the Times does not make it clear that haredi rabbis who oppose organ harvesting from brain stem dead patients and forbid their followers from donating organs allow those followers to accept organs harvested from brain stem dead patients – to always take but never give.
The rabbis do this in part by ruling that the donors either aren't really Jewish because they aren't fuly Orthodox or argue that because some donors are Arabs and other minorities, it is possible the organ came from one of them. But many of these rabbis encourage sick followers to get the organ they need transplanted in the US or in aother country where it is even more certain the donor was not a Jew.
Why not report that?
After all, doesn't the world need to know what haredi rabbis really think about them?
The fact is that Jews who are not Orthodox and who live in western countries donate organs much more frequently than Israeli Jews who are under the thumb of both haredi rabbis and pervasive (but often inaccurate) Jewish folklore do.
That distinction – and its cause, haredism – needs to be highlighted, not glossed over or ignored.
[Hat Tip: Sfek-Sfaika.]