Kidney Transplants

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    This has been bothering me today ever since the indictments came out this morning (Second day of Menachem Av).

    If a person is R’L dying and the only way to live is through a kidney transplant and there are NONE available in time and the person will surely pass away R’L, DOES THE RULE OF PIKUACH NEFESH OVERRIDE THE LAW AGAINST BUYING AND SELLING ORGANS?

    I understand its against the law in the US (and Israel) but if the person will surely die and that is the only way to get a kidney why should Pikuach Nefesh apply (or not apply)? (keep in mind we are NOT stealing the organ from the donor or anyone else)

    Yes, I will ask my Rav this question but wondering what anyone know or may have an idea of (may it never come to practical need for anyone).


    What’s the din, a person can live through Dialysis when the kidneys are no longer functioning.


    when my father in law ob”m was on dialysis..and they came to us and told us he needed a kidney we asked a rov and the shaila went up and up the ladder of rabbonim until the answer was if a family member wanted to donate a kidney to him it would be muttar but only under certain circumstances .. like no women in childbearing years and a few others but pikuach nefesh was involved at the time so…so I guess to answer your question it’s a maybe under certain circumstances


    re: selling/buying a kidney – The problem of dina d’malchusa dina, comes to mind. (But I would tend to view it similarly to you, that pikuach nefesh is a powerful thing). A shailah should be asked.

    And though a person can “live” with dialysis, unless people have been through the process (I B”H have not), they are not really qualified to determine if that is any kind of a life for the person who is forced to endure it several times a week. This is a very difficult issue. Al pi halacha a live donor may donate a kidney. However, kidney donation is not as glatt and easy a thing to do as some people who are great proponents of it would have us believe. IT IS MAJOR SURGERY, and as with any major surgery (or even minor, for that matter), there are risks of injury or death. Forget about the idea of “special shmirah” because you are trying to save a life. Plenty of people lost their lives trying to save other Jews. There are risks with anaesthesia, risk of infection, risk of embolism, risk of post-surgical complications, and the person who loses one kidney, is now at risk should anything happen to the remaining kidney.

    If chalilah v’chas it was a loved one and I were a match and suitable as a donor in other respects, IN A HEARTBEAT I would do it. But many people are being asked to do this for a complete stranger, and the issue is not as simple as it is made out to be. Each person needs to look into his own conscience, speak with a rov, and make a decision if ever needed, lo aleinu. May all Klal Yisroel have good health and arichas yamim.


    A kidney transplant doesn’t guarantee that the body will take to the kidney.


    I hear all of your thoughts on the matter. I just wanted to note that the maximum jail term being faced by the alleged “kidney dealer” is “only” 5 years, while the maximum jail term for most of the other frum defendants is 20 years.

    That kinda shows what the US government believes is the more severe crime.


    I had a similar question to what SJSinNYC asked namely about what makes a Kidney Donor Compatible? Is it just Blood Type, DNA, restricted to Biological Family Members exclusively? What Criteria is a Kidney Donor Bank looking for when they make the selection?


    WTD, I think the difference is that selling a kidney affects relatively few people – assuming the person who was selling the kidney got the kidney voluntarily and not through the bathtub scheme…defrauding/laundering money affects the entire nation. Anyone who launders money is effectively stealing from the entire USA.


    SJS true true. But when will get rid of this stigma that paying taxes is for chumps.

    R’ Yaakov Kamenetzky was carrying his hat and frock on a smoldering hot day in DC one summer and when they passed by the capitol building he put it on. When his Talmidim who were with him asked why he said because they were passing by the “shpitz malchus’ of the medina.

    We must respect the medina shel chesed that we are in and obey their laws.

    Do you realize that when an accident happens and emergency services arrive (along with volunteer services) in minutes that from our tax dollars. How about trash pickup or plumbing or the sewage system or beautiful highways and roads. These are all from tax dollars….

    Pashuteh Yid

    First, as pointed out, having a kidney removed is major surgery and puts the donor at risk.

    Second, profiting from kidneys seems rather unseemly. For someone to make 150,000 profit from this scheme does not seem above board.

    Third, if there is a waiting list for donors, and one pulls shtick to get himself to the top of the list, that may be alleviating his own pikuach nefesh, but increasing the pikuach nefesh of someone else who now has to wait longer.

    Fourth, if we allow organs to be bought and sold, it will increase the chances of violent attacks by people looking to steal somebody’s organs.


    I have a very close family member on dialysis. Yes, it is hard. That person gets dialiyized 3 times a week, for 4 hours out a time. Not including time to get to the dialysis center, and traveling back home. The person comes home completely exhausted. As the doctor said, having dialysis, afterward it’s comparable to running a marathon. Not to mention the nausea and cramps, one gets if too much fluid is removed. It very difficult to work, because basically, your life revolves around dialysis. Vacations are planned around it. They can only be 2 days tops. There are dialysis centers around the country, but they needed to be planned months in advance. All dialysis patients are able to receive Medicare and disablity. But, even though Dialysis is difficult, I thank Hashem that he brought such a process into the world, because without it, that person could not, Chas’VaShalom live.

    We have a family member ready & willing to donate. But the person has not been well enough to received a transplant. B’H, that person should be well. Any donor has to go through a phycologoist. They are asked questions on what their motives are for donating. Are they sane? They are also given a barrage of tests.

    Actually, the best donor candidate, we were told, is a woman, who has had children, as after childbirth, it is easier to access a kidney.

    There are waiting lists if someone does not have a available donor. Even if you read the Torah Times, R”L, you see people need kidneys, and there are drives around to find matches.


    Pashuteh, the guy did profit alot but who else is willing to do what he does. People make a ton of profit on many ventures. But more importantly, I am looking at this from the perspective of the donee.

    “Third” — The person giving the kidney for money presumably was not giving up his kidney otherwise. So no one is getting skipped in line. The line actually just got one person shorter.

    “Fourth” — If we strictly regulated it and that the donor pay had to be fully disclosed and that “stolen” kidneys are not allowed due to some procedural protections for full disclosure then we may have a better, safer system.


    It’s a scandal that so many people are stuck on dialysis and die when we each have one more kidney than necessary. It makes no sense to ban someone from “selling” a kidney, as long as the seller is knows what the risks are.

    As a post above says, buying a kidney abroad *shortens* the line for everyone else waiting. Ideally, it should be regulated to ensure that donors give informed consent.


    dd, we do not all have “one more kidney than necessary.” G-d put to kidneys in us for a reason, if we can live with only one.


    DD, I am sure your intentions are honorable, but if Hashem gave us two kidneys, that is what He intended us to use. The fact that we CAN live with only one kidney (and the life is NOT 100% the same as if there were two functioning kidneys, no matter what you may have heard from eager “do a mitzvah” kidney solicitors), does not mean that we SHOULD deliberately put ourselves in that position without extremely mitigating circumstances. You can live without one earlobe, you can see with one eye,and you can

    even live with only one good arm. Would you want to lose any of those? Chalilah v’chas.

    Even to save the life of another person, we cannot just make an arbitrary decision to risk our own, because our lives are as choshuv as theirs. Maybe the reason G-d put two kidneys in us was because the kidneys perform such a vital function to our well-being and survival, that He wanted to make sure we were protected in case one of them malfunctioned.


    My feeling is that presumably if you were able to purchase a kidney or other vital organ, you should not hesitate to do so (assuming that it is a cclear case of pikuach nefesh). Pikuach nefesh is doicha Shabbos, it certanly should be doicha dina dimalchusa.

    That is only my feeling and obviously a morah horah would have to be asked. If it would lead to people having their organs forcibly removed, I can see that being a reason to prohibit it l’halach.

    However, I seem to recall that there was a statement by Rav Elyashiv Shlit”a about a year ago regarding a case dealing with organs from China, I do not recall if they were forcibly removed, and thus my speculation would moot because there was a p’sak regarding the issue.


    Pikuach nefesh is doicha Shabbos, it certanly should be doicha dina dimalchusa.

    Not when the person acquiring the organ is selling it for profit and not out of the goodness of his heart to help save a life. If one needs marijuana for medical use (glaucoma, chemotherapy side effects), it should be made available. But the law of the land says it is illegal to use or sell it for use, and if a rabbi is caught selling it to people who need it, he will still be arrested for drug peddling. The law should be legally circumvented, but organs should not be bought and sold on a black market. The chillul Hashem that this caused cannot be undone.


    On my way back from Israel after one of my pieces of luggage went through the x-ray machine the security guard made me take it over to the main security station. I got all nervous because this specific piece of luggage contained 2 weeks worth of dirty laundry. I couldn’t stop praying to Hashem that they shouldn’t open it – as I was rightfully embarrassed. They started questioning me; The reason for my visit? How we traveled? the places I had been to? They then asked me if I might have any batteries or such things, I said I might in the front pocket.

    To make a long story short they asked me if I had been to the dead sea and when I answered in the affirmative they asked if I brought back some mud or such. I reminded myself that I had a bag of mud that they provide by the beach. It appears that on the x-ray the mud looked like a kidney and they wanted to make sure I wasn’t transporting one.

    I was so thankful they believed me and didn’t make me open the suitcase. I don’t know why they would have thought that I was transporting a kidney since it wasn’t laying in dried ice etc.


    In China they kill a prisoner so you can get the organ. You are directly causing their death so it is assur.

    During churban europe many passport laws were violated to save lives.



    I believe the question was whether someone who needed the kidney should try to get it. I therefore gave my answer. And the logic remains. Note that I clearly said that we are not talking about a case were the organ would be forcibly removed. In a case where a person would be willing to do so for money, ,which is illegal in the US, why would pikuch nefesh not be doicha.

    And I was not talking about setting a business for the purchase and sale of organs. The comment was in response to the question, regarding the patient.

    The chillul hashem in this instance appears to be that the person involved was forcing people to donate (read the details). I suspect it would not be such an issue if it was clear that people approched him that they were willing to sell an organ and he ended up using that opportunity to save two lives. (One with an organ and one with desperately needed funds). This was however a csae that the media found easy to sensentionalize to the extreme.

    I am afraid to see what words of wisdom the President is bound to add, since he seems eager to comment on these types of stories of late and to qoute him “stupidly”.


    I have to say that from the aspect of the donee I dont see how Pikuach Nefesh should not override the concept of dina d’malchusa.

    If the donor would not be a donor except for money and the donee has the money and its his/her only option to stay alive. I see no issues with it as long as it is heavily regulated and protections against forceful “donating” are put in place.

    I believe we would save many more lives than we do with the current system..


    I see no issues with it as long as it is heavily regulated and protections against forceful “donating” are put in place

    If that WERE the case, it would no longer be against the law to do this. I agree btw that pikuach nefesh is docheh everything. BUT, we still live in a country where trying to save a life in a way that is not only illegal but also does not look like that is what you were trying to do, and that is where the dina d’M”D comes in. Those rabbis do not appear to be trying to save lives. They come across as trying to profit from human misery by selling a commodity that is in demand. If they were doing it l’sheim mitzvah, they wouldn’t take money for it. To be honest, I don’t know enough about this news story to really comment on it fairly. I therefore restrict my opinion solely to the sale of organs, and I think ther should be no profit for the middleman .

    In English history, I believe, there were two grave robbers Burke and Hare. They robbed the graves to sell the cadavers to the local medical school. When there were not enough people dying, so the stories go, they would procure their cadavers by killing people. Their method was for centuries referred to as Burking someone. Any history and literary buffs out there who knwo this story? Anyway, there is a fear that is truly legitimate, that if body parts could be sold, that people would be mugged and have their organs removed. No more, give me your wallet, more like I’m taking your liver. It HAS happened, and can happen again. There should be a voluntary registry for people who rtruly do not care about the risks of donating, so that they could donate. And yes, there should be some type of compensation, but not $100,000.


    Bottom line is a tremedous Chillul Hashem was caused by all of this and as more details come out it seems that it was more entrapment than it was actually catching hardened criminals.

    The Wolf

    How exactly was it entrapment?

    How do you define entrapment?

    The Other Wolf

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