April 4, 2010, Updated September 24, 2012

Israel is trying a trailblazing experiment in organ donation, with the launch of a new law that medical authorities hope will boost organ supply. According to the law, if you sign a donor card, you and your family move up in line for a transplant, should it be necessary. The law is the first of its kind in the world.

Only 10 percent of Israeli adults hold donor cards, compared with more than 30% in most Western countries. The actual rate of families that donate a deceased’s organs is 45%, but in other countries it rises to 70%, according to Dr. Jacob Lavee, director of the heart transplant unit at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center.

Lavee, who helped draft the law, says, “This is the first time that a non-medical criterion has been established in organ allocation. It will rectify the unfairness of the situation where people who are unwilling to donate wait in the same line as those who are willing.” He adds that a broader pool of organs will ultimately benefit everyone.

Luc Noel, coordinator of clinical procedures at the World Health Organization in Geneva, praised the Israeli law for its educational value and for introducing a “community spirit” to the field of organ donations.


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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director

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