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September 25, 1995

Compensating Organ Donors

Author Affiliations

New York, NY

Arch Intern Med. 1995;155(17):1912-1913. doi:10.1001/archinte.1995.00430170108015

The House of Delegates of the American Medical Association adopted the report of its Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs concerning financial incentives for organ procurement.1 I have recently reviewed this subject from the point of view of Jewish law.2 Most rabbinic rulings state that financial compensation for organ donation is permissible. However, a cadaver organ must not be withheld by the family because remuneration is refused or unavailable. The family has no "property rights" or estate rights to the body of their relative. It is forbidden in Judaism to let someone die because one receives no payment to save him or her. On the contrary, one must expend one's own money, if necessary, to save a life. The Talmud clearly states, "He who saves a life is as if he saved a whole world."3

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