Organ Donations:
Medical & Halakhic Concerns

March 23, 2008

Introductory Remarks:

Dr. Teddy Silvera

 

Keynote Speaker:

Rabbi Dr. Eddie Reichman

Rabbi Dr. Edward Reichman is an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center and Associate Professor of Philosophy and History of Medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (AECOM) of Yeshiva University, where he teaches Jewish medical ethics. He received his rabbinic ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University and writes and lectures widely in the field of Jewish medical ethics. He is the recipient of a Kornfeld Foundation Fellowship and the Rubinstein Prize in Medical Ethics.  He is a past member of the advisory board of the Institute for Genetics and Public Policy. Rabbi Dr. Reichman’s research is devoted to the interface of medical history and Jewish law.

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About the Event

by Susie Erani

Many of us have wondered about the halakhic position on organ donation.  Donating organs seems consistent with Jewish values yet the general attitude appears to be “Jews don’t do that”.  Rabbi Haber addressed this topic in his introduction to a balanced and thought provoking program that took place at Kol Israel on March 24.  The speakers were able to dispel some misconceptions and show how vitally important donated organs are to so many.

            Dr. Teddy Silvera spoke from a medical perspective.  He emphasized the tremendous need for organs as many patients wait for years because there are not enough donated organs.  He also spoke about how successful many transplants are and the excellent quality of life the patients acquire.

            Mrs. Pat Mann gave a moving account of her own experiences as a liver recipient 18 years ago.  Seeing a healthy, vibrant woman stand before us and hearing her speak was very powerful and made the issue hit close to home. She turned what would have been a theoretical discussion into reality for us.

            Our keynote speaker was Rabbi Dr. Eddie Reichmann, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center and Associate Professor of Philosophy and History of Medicine at the Albert Einstein College of  Medicine of YU.

A wonderful speaker, he outlined the separate medical and halakhic issues associated with two types of donations – those from living donors and those from deceased donors.

            In terms of living donors, the halakhic issue centers on the risk the donor will incur by donating. Rabbi Dr. Reichmann stressed that one has to understand medicine in order to understand the halacha and be able to assess the risk.  He cited Rabbinic sources in order to explore the obligation one has to save someone.

            For deceased or cadaveric donation, the issue is whether or not one is halakhically dead.  Many laws about handling the deceased can be violated for the sake of Pikuach Nefesh.  Therefore organ donation may be permitted as long as one is halakhically dead.  He cited the Chief Rabbinate’s decision that brain stem death is death. He discussed new frontiers in transplants and the different issues bound to arise.  For more information contact the Halakhic Organ Donation Society at www.hods.org. 

            This fascinating lecture was sponsored by Dr. Teddy Silvera in memory of his brother Jack Silvera.

 

~Sponsored by Dr.& Mrs. Teddy Silvera in memory of his brother Jack Silvera~

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