RABBI DAVID SHABAI, MD
Donation After Cardiac Death: Halakhic Perspectives
Virtually all halakhic decisors agree that donating liesaving organs ater death is certainly permissible; most view itas appropriate and commendable. While the orah proscribesdesecrating a corpse, this prohibition, like almost all others, isset aside in the context o lie saving. aking a lie-sustaining organ rom a living person, however, would kill the donor, andeven though done or the noble purpose o
, mur-der is an exception to the general rule. Murder is never permit-ted, regardless o the reasoning or rationale. We are thus let with harvesting lie-sustaining organs only rom the dead.Most transplanted organs are harvested rom braindead patients, with the assumption being that a brain dead pa-tient is dead. While accepted by US law, the halakhic status o brain death is debated.
Since vital organs are in high demandbut short supply, eorts are also being made to harvest trans-plantable organs rom patients declared dead by the traditionalcardiopulmonary criteria (when the heartbeat and respirationsirreversibly cease). Tese eorts have spawned various dona-
1 Te interested reader is directed to this author’s
Defning the Moment:Understanding Brain Death in Halakhah
(New York: Shoresh Press, 2012)or a more in depth discussion.
Rabbi David Shabtai, MD is a ellow o the Wexner Kollel Elyon andteaches medical halakhah at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan TeologicalSeminary. He is the author o
Defning the Moment: Understanding Brain Death in Halakhah