Jewish families are being urged to “have a conversation” about organ donation and family members’ wishes in the event that their death gives an opportunity to donate.
It follows the launch of a new video showing a group of Jewish friends discussing the matter around a dinner table, as medics warn that only half of British Jews have spoken about their wishes to their next of kin.
The video, which is the first of several, shows friends in their mid-20s discussing the issues that matter to them, including whether they know their parents’ wishes.
It is part of a new campaign from the Jewish Organ Donor Association (JODA UK) urging people to talk about donation in part to avoid a situation immediately after a death in which family members are unsure of a person’s wishes.
To coincide with the launch, new figures revealed that 45 percent of British Jews have signed up to the new organ donor register, following last year’s legal change, but 49 percent are yet to have a conversation with family about their wishes, while 22 percent have not yet given the matter any thought.
The same survey showed that almost two thirds of British Jews have thought about their own mortality more since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
JODA UK said myths around Jewish burial and organ donation persist, with one in five community members still mistakenly believing that a Jew cannot be buried in a Jewish cemetery if they have a tattoo or if they have donated organs. “Both are untrue,” said JODA UK medical director Dr Marc Wittenberg.
“By debunking these myths and showing Jewish families having important conversations about their wishes, we hope to raise awareness of the positive Jewish attitude to organ donation, as well as a new organ donation faith declaration developed by the Office of the Chief Rabbi.”
He added that it was “likely that the Friday night and Yom Tov dinner table will be filled with lively conversation this year… we hope people take the opportunity to leave their family certain over organ donation”.
NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) said both donation and transplantation had been heavily impacted by the pandemic, meaning that it was now “more important than ever” to discuss family wishes in the event of their death.
British Jews can register their wishes – including the Chief Rabbi’s faith declaration – on the NHS Organ Donor Register, with JODA UK urging everyone to make it a Friday night dinner debate.
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