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Israel: Amendment to Organ Donation Law Passed

(Nov. 8, 2012) On July 25, 2012, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) passed an amendment to the Organ Implantation Law, 5768-2008. According to explanatory notes to the original draft bill, the objective of the Law was to eliminate trade in organs and “to prevent taking advantage of the hardships involved for donor and recipient,” by criminalizing trade in as well as mediation of the donation of organs for implantation. (Organ Implantation Draft Bill, 5764-2003 [in Hebrew], HATSAOT HOK (H.H.) Gov. 68, p. 236.)

The original Law established a National Center for Implantations under the Ministry of Health with the objective of increasing the scope of organ donations and implantations in Israel by centralizing the monitoring and control over the harvesting and implantation of organs. The Law further provides for the establishment of the Center’s Steering Committee. Among other duties, the Committee will devise guidelines for prioritization of organ allocation. One consideration that must be taken into account by the Committee in determining priority guidelines, according to the Law, is whether the donor himself, or his/her close relative, had previously donated an organ to another person during his/her lifetime. (Organ Implantation (Amendment) Law, 5772-2012 [in Hebrew], SEFER HAHUKIM No. 2374 p. 606 (Aug. 2, 2012), the Knesset website.)

The July 2012 Amendment removes a differentiation in priority that had been made between recipients in obtaining organs. That differentiation had previously been applicable under the original Law to favor those who had themselves donated an organ or whose immediate relatives had done so, when the donation was made without having a specific designation of the recipient. (Id.)

According to explanatory notes on the draft bill, the objective of the prioritization guidance for organ allocation after death under the original Law was to give donors an incentive to donate organs. The priority given to live donors, according to these notes, however, “takes into consideration the fact that a live donor may face health risks. For this matter, the differentiation between a donor [who donates] to a specific recipient and one who does not donate to a specific recipient is irrelevant.” Both types of donor, the notes state, are equally entitled to priority in obtaining organs for implantation. (Draft Bill Organ Implantation (Amendment) (Giving Priority to Any Live Organ Donor) Law, 5772-2012 [in Hebrew], H.H. Knesset No. 478 p. 238 (June 25, 2012), the Knesset website.)