Rabbi wants government organ rule change

By Anna Sheinman, July 12, 2013

A leading reform rabbi has written to the Home Secretary urging the government to follow the example set by Wales on organ donation and institute a system of presumed consent.

Rabbi Jonathan Romain, of Maidenhead Synagogue in Berkshire, sent a letter to Theresa May this week strongly supporting the “opt-out” system, which caused controversy among some members of the Jewish community when it was adopted by the Welsh Assembly last week.

He said that such a system should be welcomed. “In some cases it would be saving a life, for example with heart or lung transplants, and in others, such as a corneal or cochlear transplant, it will be enhancing life.

“I am conscious that there are concerns against such a practice — practical ones over harvesting organs, philosophical issues about personal autonomy, as well as religious objections over unnecessary incisions after death.”

He added: “These are legitimate concerns, but they are trumped by the higher value of saving a person’s life.”

He said that for members of his congregation, organ donation had been incredibly comforting to families and knowing that the death of their loved one had changed the lives of others was helpful in the grieving process.

Last updated: 12:45pm, July 12 2013