Chief Rabbi reassures community of choice over organ donation law change

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Chief Rabbi reassures community of choice over organ donation law change

Video guidance says it is a 'common misconception' that it's not allowed in Judaism, but measures have been put in place to ensure religious beliefs are respected

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis

The Chief Rabbi has used his Succot video message to reassure the community about the organ donation law change.

Ephraim Mirvis encouraged members of the community to declare their religious beliefs on the NHS organ donor site, saying: “The law is clear that no person’s organs or tissue can be taken against their wishes.”

This comes after the law changed last year from an ‘opt-in’ to an ‘opt-out’ system, meaning there is ‘deemed consent’ for organs to be donated after death.

Mirvis added: “it’s a common misconception that organ donation is not allowed according to Halacha (Jewish law). It can be done with remarkable life-saving implications.”

The Chief Rabbi’s office “worked closely with NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) and the Human Tissue Authority to deliver an essential accommodation within the opt-out system”, incorporating religious guidance in decision making. “NHSBT has created a provision which allows people to stipulate that their faith is important to them on the Organ Donor Register.”

The guidance says the “new system allows observant Jews to engage positively with it, safe in the knowledge that their faith will be respected and their wishes carefully adhered to.”

Anyone wishing to declare their beliefs, can agree to a statement on the organ donor website, asking “NHS staff to speak to my family and anyone appropriate about how organ donation can go ahead in line with my faith or beliefs’.

To ensure wishes are respected, specially trained nursing staff will discuss with family members of the deceased on the matter, and a hotline has been set up with Halachic authorities. 

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