Agudath Seeks to Get Law on Organ Donations to Conform with Jewish Law

The ultra-Orthodox Agudath Israel of America is trying to get laws governing the donation of human organs for transplants to conform with Jewish religious law. The group announced that it has sent memoranda to key national and state government officials urging that the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act which has been presented to 36 State legislatures be amended with respect to the determination of the time of death of the donor.

The Agudath Israel asserted that “there are doctors who, in their eagerness to perform a transplant operation, are willing to declare the donor as dead when the brain waves cease although the patient is still breathing.” This practice, the Orthodox petitioners said, is contrary to Jewish religious law which places the time of death at the moment breathing stops. This formula has been “the accepted practice in most civilized countries,” they said. The Act has been approved by legislatures of California, Kansas, Louisiana and Maryland, but was rejected by the New York Assembly.

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