Judaism and Organ Donation

Contrary to common myth, all Jewish denominations encourage organ and tissue donation. The mitzvah of saving a life, pikuach nefesh, is considered one of Judaism’s highest values (Hadassah – Pikua Nefesh)

In principle, Judaism supports and encourages organ donation in order to save lives. This can sometimes override the strong objections to any unnecessary interference with the body after death, and the requirement for immediate burial of the complete body.

It is understandable that there will be worries about organ donation. At a time of stress and grief, linked to sudden unexpected illness and death, reaching a decision about donation can be difficult for a family. It is at this time that halachic guidance is so important.

Judaism insists that no organ may be removed from a donor until death. Judaism insists that honour and respect are due to the dead (kavod hamet). After donation, the avoidance of unnecessary further interference with the body, and the need for immediate interment, are again of prime concern.

“One who saves a single life – it is as if he has saved an entire world.”
Pirke D’Rav Eliezer, chapter 48

Religious views Information obtained from UK Transplant

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