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...

  • Sports Rangers Game Minyan Revelation Prompts Twitter Discussion on Faith and Sports

    Rangers Game Minyan Revelation Prompts Twitter Discussion on Faith and Sports

    A prayer quorum of at least 10 Jewish men, known as a minyan, gathers at every New York Rangers game played in the evening at Madison Square Garden, Jewish Insider reported on Monday citing commentator and former Mitt Romney adviser Dan Senor. “Another reason to love NYC: Just learned there’s a Minyan at every @NYRangers eve game b/w 2nd & 3rd periods at same designated spot at MSG,” tweeted Senor, who also co-authored Start Up Nation, a bestseller which documents [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Sports World Palestinian Soccer League Withdraws Bid to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Palestinian Soccer League Withdraws Bid to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    The head of Israel’s soccer association called on his Palestinian counterpart to “join forces,” as the Palestinian Football Association withdrew its bid on Friday to have Israel suspended from FIFA. “Let’s leave it to the politicians to do politics,” said Israel Football Association chief Ofer Eini, moments after PFA Chairman Jibril Rajoub announced that his group had withdrawn the proposal. After his remarks, Eini shook hands with the Palestinian soccer chief. Rajoub thanked “those” who convinced him to drop the [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Israeli-American Group Congratulates Cavaliers’ Blatt on Reaching NBA Finals

    Israeli-American Group Congratulates Cavaliers’ Blatt on Reaching NBA Finals

    JNS.org – An organization whose work focuses on the estimated population of 500,000-800,000 Israeli Americans congratulated David Blatt, the Jewish head coach of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Cleveland Cavaliers and a longtime Israel-based coach, for clinching an appearance in the NBA Finals. The Israeli-American Council (IAC), whose stated mission is “to build an active and giving Israeli-American community throughout the United States in order to strengthen the State of Israel, our next generation, and to provide a bridge to [...]

    Read more →
  • Food US & Canada Bacon Flavor Ben & Jerry’s ‘Not Gonna Happen’ Because it Wouldn’t be Kosher

    Bacon Flavor Ben & Jerry’s ‘Not Gonna Happen’ Because it Wouldn’t be Kosher

    Famed ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s will not be introducing a Bacon flavored product to its offerings because the company intends to keep its entire line kosher, Marketing Director Alison Gilbert told AOL’s morning show Rise recently. “It’s kind of funny, a lot of people look for bacon in our ice cream, which is probably not gonna happen because all of our ice cream is kosher,” she said, referring to Jewish dietary restrictions that proscribe the consumption of pig [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports Israeli Judo Team Faces Antisemitic Harassment in Morocco: ‘We Will Murder You’

    Israeli Judo Team Faces Antisemitic Harassment in Morocco: ‘We Will Murder You’

    Israeli athletes at a world Judo championship in Morocco reportedly faced antisemitic slurs during the competition, news site WorldNetDaily reported on Monday. “We will murder you,” and “you’re not wanted here, go home,” were among the vituperative attacks directed at the Israeli Judo Association team, which was in Morocco last week for the World Masters Judo Tournament. According to Haaretz, each Israeli teammate was met with boos and jeers upon entering a fight. Additionally, no Israeli flags were present at [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Lady Gaga Accepts ADL Award: ‘Your Philosophies Are So in Line With Ours’ (VIDEO)

    Lady Gaga Accepts ADL Award: ‘Your Philosophies Are So in Line With Ours’ (VIDEO)

    Pop superstar Lady Gaga on Thursday accepted an award from Jewish human rights group the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on behalf of her Born This Way Foundation, which strives to combat bullying among young people. “Your philosophies are so in line with ours,” she said of the ADL upon accepting the Making a Difference Award in a videotaped message, which was shown at a ceremony in New York City. “We want to help young people know that their feelings and who they are on [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities At 80, Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Roots ‘Very Much Intact’

    At 80, Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Roots ‘Very Much Intact’

    JNS.org – Eighty years young, Leonard Cohen fits many descriptions—singer, songwriter, poet, novelist, monk. From his Jewish upbringing in Canada to the present day, Cohen has always explored his spiritual side. This month, the singer-songwriter released the CD (May 12) and iTunes (on May 8 of this year) formats of his latest album, Can’t Forget: A Souvenir of the Grand Tour, which features live recordings from his world tours in 2012 and 2013. Last year, Cohen’s Popular Problems was voted by Rolling Stone [...]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not be Booted From World Soccer Association

    FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not be Booted From World Soccer Association

    JNS.org – Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) head Sepp Blatter said during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that contrary to Palestinian complaints, Israel has not violated any FIFA statutes and should not be suspended from international soccer’s governing body. “We should not come to one federation saying we will exclude them,” said Blatter, the Jerusalem Post reported. “If the national association is fulfilling its obligations then there is no need to intervene,” he said. “I’m on a [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.