Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Do Chareidim Contribute Their ‘Fair Share’ of Organs?

July 31, 2013 9:26 am 3 comments

Orthodox Jewish men and their children. Photo: Wiki Commons.

I once attended a tribute event for living kidney donors, and was intrigued by the lack of diversity in the room. Though there were sectarian distinctions, the common thread was that they were all Chareidim. The room was filled with Chassidim, some yeshivish individuals, and a couple of Sephardic Jews. I had imagined that the diversity of the donors would extend to their religious levels of observance, but was amused that the distinctions remained nuanced in sectarian adherence.

It is not my province to render halachic rulings; I leave that to poskim (rabbinic authorities). Herein, I will address some realities and seek to dispel fictitious notions.

Chareidim are often criticized regarding their willingness to accept organs from cadavers, especially in light of their unwillingness to register as organ donors themselves. However, if one of these critics were to examine the facts surrounding Chareidi organ donation, they would find their indignations to be unfounded.

Consider the following: Each year, there are 160 altruistic kidney donations in the United States. Of those, one Jewish organization alone, Renewal (in Boro Park, Brooklyn), facilitates 30. (They enabled 45 to materialize this year, 30 of which were altruistic. The other 15 were donations to family members or close friends. In fact, the majority of Renewal’s donors meet their recipients for the first time in the hospital as they’re being prepared for surgery.)

According to these numbers, 18% of all altruistic donations nationwide come from one Chareidi organization alone! Of the 30 donors, all are frum (religiously observant), and 85% are what would be considered “Chareidi.” Furthermore, consider that not all Chareidim donate through Renewal; the amount of Chareidi/frum kidney donors compared to any other American demographic is staggering-in a good way!

Kidneyregistry.org states that kidneys transplanted from living donors last nearly twice as long as cadaveric donations. Now, suppose the Chareidi Rabbinate would congregate to reexamine their position on cadaveric kidney donation, and determine that it’s a mitzvah to register to donate one’s organs upon mortality. Do you think there would be a consequential difference in the amount of available kidneys due to the influx of Chareidi signatories?

Let’s examine some hard data: The overwhelming majority of people who have signed up to be [afterlife] organ donors are NOT qualified to donate upon death. It is the extreme minority whose organs are actually viable for transplant. According to Hrsa.gov, there are currently 118,929 people in America awaiting an organ. 81.5% of those people need kidneys. The average waiting time for a kidney is three to five years, depending on blood type. Sadly, 5,000 of them will die annually while awaiting their kidney.

101.4 million Americans (33.8% of America’s population of 300 million) are enrollees in state donor registries as of January 1st, 2012. According to the New York Times, there are approximately 11,000 kidney cadaver transplants that occur each year. Because America’s [annual] mortality rate is 0.7995%, roughly 810,700 registered donors die each year (which means there should be 1,621,400 prospective kidneys which become available annually to the ill renal patients).

Despite the above figures, only slightly more than one half of one percent of kidneys are in fact transplanted! The only explanation is that 99.5% of the kidneys don’t receive medical clearance for transplant because they lack viability; otherwise, there would be no waiting list at all (as 1.6 million kidneys fill the need many times over and would eliminate the existence of a waiting list).

Approximately 500,000 Chareidim reside on America’s blessed shores (Wikipedia/University of Manchester). Based on the US mortality rate, approximately 3,998 of them will die this year. Using our earlier illustration where the [Chareidi] Rabbinate would encourage signing the donor card, and Chareidim would become inspired to register as donors (and would match America’s 33.8% figure of registered donors), that would amount to 1,351 registered Chareidi donors dying this year, leaving behind a theoretical 2,702 kidneys to be harvested for cadaveric donation. Taking into account that 99.32% wouldn’t be viable [for transplant use], merely 18 additional [Chareidi] kidneys would be added to the national “kidney inventory” each year.

The 18 potential Chareidi kidneys that would become available (if the Chareidi Rabbinate would encourage after-life donation), is substantially lower than the 30 [altruistic] figure that Renewal actually facilitates yearly. That is even without taking into account that kidneys stemming from live donors have nearly double the lifespan of the cadaveric kidney.

One Chareidi organization alone compensates-and then some!-for all those [potentially] lost kidneys due to the Chareidi Rabbinate’s hardline stance. So, the next time you hear someone professing slander upon the Chareidi community with the notion that they consume organs when needed, yet refuse to donate, you will know the true response: Chareidim DO donate life!

3 Comments

  • I imagine that by and large they are only donating to Orthodox Jews. And yet they take organs from gentiles. If true, I find that troubling.

    • I don’t see anything wrong with that at all! Why shouldn’t there be a preference for ones own community?

  • a breath of fresh air. mr wolf, I am inspired by your donation.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Relationships Yossi Vardi Credits Pushy Jewish Mother for His Startup Success

    Yossi Vardi Credits Pushy Jewish Mother for His Startup Success

    Millionaire entrepreneur Yossi Vardi credited his success in start-ups to his Jewish mother continuously pushing him to do better, Daily Mail reported on Thursday. “Jewish mothers are never satisfied and nothing is ever good enough,” he said, adding that his mother, who died 15 years ago, used to compare him with his cousins and say he was “an idiot.” “For most of my life I have been trying to show her I’m not,” he continued. “I keep on trying even now.” Vardi, […]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Seth Rogen Unveils New Christmas Movie — ‘Will Open on Thanksgiving, Made by Jews’ (VIDEO)

    Seth Rogen Unveils New Christmas Movie — ‘Will Open on Thanksgiving, Made by Jews’ (VIDEO)

    Famed actor Seth Rogen on Tuesday unveiled with typical comic fanfare the trailer for his new Christmas film. The movie “was made by Jews… and opens on Thanksgiving,” Rogen pointed out on Twitter. The Night Before tells the tale of three “ride or die homies” celebrating one last debauchery-filled Christmas Eve reunion before they become too busy to keep up their annual tradition. In an effort to make the night as memorable as possible, they set out to find the “Nutcracka Ball – the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish History Art Can Inspire Faith; It Can Also Empower Destructive Ideologies

    Art Can Inspire Faith; It Can Also Empower Destructive Ideologies

    A June 2015 art exhibit, “The Transformative Power of Art,” at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, harnessed the universal language of art to convey an important message: “Our fragile Mother Earth faces the devastating consequences of climate change, a defining challenge of our time.” The exhibit also included sixteen portraits of people from all over the world who have “contributed to the common good of humanity in one way or another and have transformed the way we […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports Israeli Muslim Cage Fighter Says He’s Proud to Fight Under Jewish State’s Flag

    Israeli Muslim Cage Fighter Says He’s Proud to Fight Under Jewish State’s Flag

    A 32-year-old Circassian Israeli Muslim Mixed Martial Arts fighter from Abu Ghosh says he takes pride in fighting under the Israeli flag, Israel’s Walla reported on Sunday. Like most Circassian Israelis, Jackie “the Punishment” Gosh was born Sunni Muslim. He became observant about eight years ago, and is now scrupulous in following his religion’s tenets, praying five times a day and fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. Gosh is also very proud of his Israeli nationality, and sees no contradiction between […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Music New Mark Skinner Documentary Explores Jewish, Arab Rap Scene in Israel (VIDEO)

    New Mark Skinner Documentary Explores Jewish, Arab Rap Scene in Israel (VIDEO)

    A new documentary explores the lives and work of Jewish and Arab rappers in Israel and how the ongoing conflict in the region has impacted their lyrics, the U.K.’s Jewish Chronicle reported on Thursday. Hip Hop in the Holy Land is a six-part series co-directed by Mike Skinner, the British frontman of hip-hop group The Streets, and produced by Noisey, a music channel published by Vice news. The first episode, published last week, shows Skinner meeting with Tamer Nafar, the founder of one of […]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada 49ers Running Back Jarryd Hayne Apologizes for ‘Hurtful’ Jesus Tweets

    49ers Running Back Jarryd Hayne Apologizes for ‘Hurtful’ Jesus Tweets

    New 49ers running back and Australian rugby star Jarryd Hayne apologized on Wednesday for a tweet in which he raised the age-old myth that Jews were historically responsible for Jesus Christ’s death. Reaching out to his Jewish fans, and the chairman of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission, Hayne tweeted: “To the Jewish community @DvirAbramovich #WeAreAllOne.” Underneath, he keenly included a screenshot of a text message to elaborate on his apology: “I sincerely apologize for my tweets on July 1. I […]

    Read more →
  • Theater Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Recalls Being ‘Extremely Surprised’ at Winning Miss Israel Contest

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Recalls Being ‘Extremely Surprised’ at Winning Miss Israel Contest

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot reminisced about her childhood in Israel during an interview published in this month’s edition of Vanity Fair. “I don’t remember this, but my mom told me that when I was three they threw a party on the rooftop of the house. They put me to bed, and I heard people coming into the house and no one came to me. I went to the rooftop and took a hose and I started to spray water on everyone, just […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Wounded Israeli Soldiers Unite With American Veterans to Help Their ‘Brothers for Life’ Heal (INTERVIEW)

    Wounded Israeli Soldiers Unite With American Veterans to Help Their ‘Brothers for Life’ Heal (INTERVIEW)

    An Israeli organization is helping wounded U.S. veterans move past their physical and psychological challenges by connecting them with injured Israeli soldiers who understand what they’ve been through. “What we discovered very early is that there’s no ‘professional, psychiatrist, social worker’ or anything like that [or] pills that can come even close to helping a soldier who fought in combat, who was wounded, who lost his friends. No one can help him like another person who’s been through exactly what he has,” Rabbi Chaim Levine, […]

    Read more →