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Q&A: Who Donates The Kidney?

February 22, 2017

Question: We recently got the news that my father needs a kidney transplant. My brothers and I are all potential donors. Does halacha have anything to say about who should be the one?

Answer: I would like to thank you for the question, but I would like to first issue a disclaimer: the doctors have an intricate screening process, and they should have first say as to who is the best candidate. Also, this particular question is well beyond any expertise or training I (don’t) have, and I recommend you contact one of the senior rabbis you can find here. I can, however, give you some insight.

The sages could not have dealt with this very question, but they did deal with similar questions, for example, how the siblings are supposed to share the burden of taking care of elderly parents, which sibling takes precedence to perform a levirate marriage, and how the closer the relative, the greater and more immediate his obligation to pay to redeem someone from captivity or slavery. Now, with regards to caring for parents and ransoming, we do not see that among brothers there is any precedence. That is, they can all take part in the performance of the commandment, perhaps all in equal measure. However, with regards to levirate marriage (or halitza if that is what the circumstances demand) although all of the brothers of the deceased are eligible, in practice only one of the brothers can perform the commandment, and the halacha is that the privilege is first presented to the oldest brother (MT Yibbum and Halitza 1:6). I think that this would be analogous to your case, because only one of you need donate a kidney, and the oldest brother takes precedence. That’s the best I can offer for now.

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From → halacha

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