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Chief rabbi rules against donor cards and organ donation after brain stem death

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 14 January 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d275
  1. Jacqui Wise
  1. 1London

The United Kingdom’s chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, has issued an edict that carrying donor cards is unacceptable and that the current organ donor system is incompatible with Jewish law.

The ruling comes after years of debate among rabbinical authorities over the definition of death and when an organ may be removed for transplant purposes. The new statement from the chief rabbi and his rabbinical court, the London Beth Din, says that organs may be removed for transplantation only at the point of cardiorespiratory failure, rather than at brain stem death.

The latest figures for 2010 show that 66% of donations came from donors after brain death and 34% from donors after cardiovascular death, NHS Blood and Transplant said.

The BMA warned that …

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