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Rabbis Approve Use of Dried Pig Skin Grafts for Persons Suffering from Severe Burns

Israeli rabbis have approved the use of dried pig skin in grafts for persons who have suffered severe burns. The relatively new method, developed in the United States, has been used successfully on Israeli soldiers badly burned during the Yom Kippur War. The rabbis who were consulted said the method was acceptable because it involved “pikuah nefesh”–the principle that religious law may be violated to save a human life.

Large quantities of pig skin, dried by a special process that permits storage, have been sent to Israel from the U.S. since the war last Oct. A report on its use will be presented at the fifth international congress of the Transplant Society to be held here next week. Prof. Nahum Ben Hur, of Shaare Zedek Hospital, one of the experts who introduced the system to Israel, told a press conference yesterday that pig skin proved to be the best skin graft. About 10 percent of Israel’s war wounded suffered from burns necessitating skin grafts.