Don’t Give, Don’t Get: Israel’s Organ Donor Law

I heard a very fascinating report on NPR last week about a new organ donor law in Israel. In response to an extreme shortage of organ donors, Israel decided to take drastic action and enacted a law that seeks to encourage organ donation by penalizing those who refuse to donate. It’s nicknamed ‘Don’t give, Don’t get.’ If an organ is available and two people of similar medical conditions are eligible for the donated organ, priority goes to the one who was a registered organ donor.

If you’re not willing to donate your own organs, you get lower priority when you need an organ.

It’s an interesting bit of medical ethics. While I think in general we should be willing to help people regardless of how much they’re willing to help others, this is a unique situation. A extreme situation calls for extreme action?

What’s funny about the story is that they talk with a rabbi who refuses to donate organs for religious reasons. Yet he’s willing to accept a donated organ if he needed one. They summarize his position so I’m not sure how accurate it is, but he basically reasons that in one instance it’s murder and in another instance they were dead anyway. I think it’s complete hypocritical garbage.

This is what happens when the shoe is on the other foot. If you’re not willing to be a part of the system, why should you benefit from the system? In other instances I’m not sure how well this logic works. What if we denied assistance benefits like unemployment or food stamps to people who refused to fund such assistance programs (not that anyone has such a choice)? What if we denied freedom to those who refused military service (interestingly enough, it’s Israel where serving in the armed forces is mandatory)? What if the Red Cross gave priority to disaster victims who had donated?

And at that point it becomes ridiculous. Admittedly I kind of like the idea of sticking it to people who won’t play along. But I think society has to be more benevolent than that. It’s not love if you only love those who love you back.

One thought on “Don’t Give, Don’t Get: Israel’s Organ Donor Law”

  1. A similar deal is available in the United States from an organ donor network named LifeSharers.

    If you agree to offer your organs first to other LifeSharers members, you’ll get preferred access to the organs of every other member of the network. As the LifeSharers network expands, your chances of getting an organ if you ever need one keep going up — if you are a member. LifeSharers already has over 13,500 members.

    Giving organs first to organ donors creates an incentive for non-donors to become donors. This increases the supply of organs and saves more lives. Saving the maximum number of lives should be the primary goal of our organ donation/transplantation system.

    Giving organs first to organ donors also makes the system fairer. People who aren’t willing to donate their own organs should go to the back of the transplant waiting list as long as there is an organ shortage.

    If you want to donate your organs to other organ donors, you can join LifeSharers at or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. Membership is free. There is no age limit. No one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *