Tag Archives: Brain Death

Symposium on the Ethics of Brain Death and Organ Donation: II

Dr. Kenneth Prager / In the wake of reignited interest within the halachic community in organ donation, Rabbi Student asked me to describe the process of declaring a patient brain dead and removing organs for donation. I have authorized him to reproduce my answers to his specific questions, which I believe have halachic implications. When a patient is pronounced brain dead at Columbia University Medical Center the family is informed of this finding and they are explained its significance.  It should be noted that the patient is legally dead in the United States if brain death has been determined.

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Symposium on the Ethics of Brain Death and Organ Donation: I

Rabbi Aaron Glatt, MD / There has been a bizarre, unfortunate and hurtful conversation taking place in the public domain (including every imaginable forum) regarding the halachic viewpoint on Brain Death. This has undoubtedly been spurred by a comprehensive halachic work of great effort and significance that was recently published through the Rabbinical Council of America’s Va’ad Halacha. Written by wonderful and accomplished talmidei chachamim, it takes its place in our beautiful “yam shel Torah” with many other fine halachic works, including those that strongly disagree with it. Having cared for patients, been at their bedside as a physician and clergyperson, and sadly at times had to pronounce their death, I think it is very unfortunate that the ensuing debate from this critique has not produced a greater kiddush Hashem. And even more regrettably, it has engendered the opposite.

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Symposium on the Ethics of Brain Death and Organ Donation: Introduction

The most important issues are often the most contentious. As Orthodox Jews passionately concerned with both tradition and continuity, we vigorously debate how to navigate from the past to the future. In the latest revival of the twenty-plus year controversy over brain death, sparked by a recent paper by the Rabbinical Council of America‘s Vaad Halakhah (link – PDF), lives ...

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Brain Stem Death: Sources, Comments, Questions

Comment #1: Lost in this communal discussion is the context of organ donation. It is part of broader end-of-life medical decisions. Many people gain comfort from the feeling of increased control that comes with thoroughly researching issues that arise. However, this can never take the place of consultation with a medical expert and a spiritual advisor. Ethicists may debate whether a living will or a healthcare proxy is better but finding a trusted advisor to guide you through the complex and emotionally difficult decisions is always important. In other words, the final answer to the issue of brain stem death is: Ask your rabbi.

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Statement re Statement re Brain Death

The recent “Rabbinic Statement Regarding Organ Donation and Brain Death” signed by several score “Orthodox rabbis and rashei yeshiva” is decidedly unorthodox in its approach to the halachic process. In fact, it makes a mockery of that process, by asking other rabbis to accept one particular halachic view regarding a complex issue pertaining to matters of life and death on the grounds that the times, in the signatories’ estimation, require a certain result. The statement, signed by congregational and campus rabbis and chaplains, duly acknowledges the halachic controversy over “brainstem death” – the diagnosis that a patient’s brainstem has irreversibly ceased functioning. But it goes on to note that forbidding the removal of vital organs from “brain dead” patients – the considered opinion of major halachic authorities of past years and the present – would have “critical implications for organ donation.” And so, the statement’s signers “strongly recommend that rabbis who are rendering decisions for their laity on this matter demonstrate a strong predisposition to accept” the alternative view. Or, if their consciences do not allow them to do so, that they at least “refer their laity to rabbis” who have no such reservations.

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Death by Neurological Criteria

Death by Neurological Criteria: A Critique of the RCA Paper and the Circulation Criteria Guest post by Dr. Noam Stadlan I want to thank Rabbi Student for the opportunity to address his audience. In the interests of full disclosure, during my career spanning (so far) 22 years as a resident and a practicing neurosurgeon I have declared a significant number ...

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Brain Death in the News

Guest post by R. Dr. David Shabtai / The Jewish Week recently reported on the RCA’s recent paper on brain death. Some have suggested that this critique was insufficiently balanced. To help and provide some context, I offer the following comments: * The article twice notes that advances in science and medicine necessitate a reevaluation, but offers no elaboration other than a critique that the RCA document skewed and omitted “pertinent medical information.”

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