Recently, Israel did something smart regarding organ donation:
Until now, Israel ranked at the bottom of Western countries on organ donation. Jewish law proscribes desecration of the dead, which has been interpreted by many to mean that Judaism prohibits organ donation. Additionally, there were rabbinic issues surrounding the concept of brain death, the state in which organs are typically harvested. As a result, many patients died waiting for organs.
So Israel has decided to try a new system that would give transplant priority to patients who have agreed to donate their organs. In doing so, it has become the first country in the world to incorporate “nonmedical” criteria into the priority system, though medical necessity would still be the first priority.
So if you sign up to donate your organs, that’ll help you in the case you ever need one yourself. It’s almost as good as a policy that would have everyone automatically listed as organ donors unless they actively opted out of it.
At the Huffington Post, Eliyahu Federman asks religious Jews to stop believing that donating your organs would “interfere with a religious duty to be buried intact” and learn a lesson from atheists:
A student once asked a religious sage what lesson he could learn from an atheist. The sage answered: “If someone comes to you for help, you should never assume God will help him. Rather become an atheist for a moment by recognizing only you can help him.”
On the issue of posthumous organ donation my religious friends could learn a lesson from my atheist friends. They should recognize that only they can help those in need of organ transplants.
Atheists believe that when you are dead your lifeless body is just a cadaver. The notions of afterlife and proper burial are nothing more than delusions and rites that help us cope with death. The atheist has no basis to object to organ donation. If you can help someone in your death, then why not? The religious person on the other hand is sometimes fraught with questions about the afterlife and preserving the body for proper burial. Question that may unfortunately lead one to hesitate from becoming an organ donor.
I think all religions can and should agree that in this matter, a lesson can be learned from the atheists. Atheists ideology posits that our dead bodies will ultimately decay anyway, so why not use them for something positive? At the end of the day, there should be nothing more life affirming and religious than being able to save someone in your death.
I think he gets it exactly right. When it comes to doing the right thing with your dead body, atheists shouldn’t have any qualms about it. But religion makes you reconsider doing the right thing for the sake of a delusion. It boggles my mind that anyone would put stock in some sort of post-life psychological satisfaction. But there’s no good reason not to become an organ donor right now.
And even though this happens during your life, you should consider becoming a marrow donor, too. I signed up; it was incredibly easy to do.