Rambam Forum

The Science and Social Necessity of Deceased Organ Donation

Francis L. Delmonico


Successful deceased organ donation requires a reproducible—consistent (scientific) system that eva-luates the potential for organ donation and determines objectively whether the national system is achieving its goals. The science of organ donation also pertains to the determination of death. We are a common humanity that dies similarly— a humanity whose ultimate criterion of life resides in the function of the human brain. The recent brain death law of Israel encouragingly enables a determination of death by the loss of neurologic function but it has become complicated by a practice that may perpetuate societal misperceptions. As a result opportunities for deceased organ donation --to provide for Israelis in need of organ transplants are being lost. A statured task force of society could be assembled to convey its support for deceased donation to influence society and resolve these misperceptions. The World Health Organization is now calling for each member state to achieve a self-sufficiency in organ donation and transplantation "equitably meeting the transplantation needs of a given population using resources from within that population". Patients should not be compelled to go to foreign countries for their organs. Israel has been a leader in the development of a model program intended to address transplant tourism. Insurance companies are no longer permitted to provide resources for Israelis to undergo illegal transplants in foreign destinations. The social necessity of a scientifically and medically applied system of deceased organ donation is now evident so that a sufficient number of organs can be available for patients from within the country they reside.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2011;2(2):e0048