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Section: Halacha   Category: Health
Rav Moshe Shternbuch - Anonymous Bone Marrow Donation
Some received a letter from a hospital (ed. note: apparently in Israel) that his bone marrow was needed to save a dying patient with whom he was a rare match.  However the hospital refused to disclose who the patient was and no details were revealed.  He asked Rav Moshe Shternbuch (5:387) if he was obligated to undergo the transplant procedure under these circumstances considering the donation may be to a person who he is not obligated to save his life.

Rav Shternbuch said that halachicly there is no obligation to believe the hospital.  In the case of Pikuach Nefesh the poskim require that the halachos only apply if the case is clear.  In this case there is no way to determine if the transplant will help and what the chances of success are.  It is also possible that there are other available donors and they don't necessarily need him.

Moreover Mei'Ikar HaDin a person is not obligated to give a part of himself to save his friend.  For example no one is obligated to donate a kidney to save someone's life even if there is no danger involved.  With regard to bone marrow however it is unclear in the medical world if it is like a kidney transplant or a blood donation which you completely recover from without any change in the body.

Although halachicly there is no obligation, says Rav Shternbuch, if you do the procedure L'Shem Shamayim it is permissible and you have a great mitzva.  Even if it will cause you to miss a few days of Tefila BiTzibbur and even if it will go to children of mixed marriages, still there is a good chance that it will go to a Jew of which many are Tinokos SheNishbi'u, and you have done a great mitzva.

Important Note: We bring this tshuvah as a starting point for discussion and not to convey any halacha.  We try to convey the Tshuva to the best of our ability. We admit that our understanding may not be accurate. One should learn the tshuva to verify the accuracy of our interpretation.  Please understand that this Tshuva may not be the final word on this topic. One should consult a Rav before drawing any conclusions.
RELATED ARTICLES:halacha  health  medicine  pikuach nefesh  Rav Moshe Shternbuch

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Visitor Comments: 2

AG, Johannesburg, 2010-03-04 22:09:03
Why do it in response to a command? Why not do in in response to the need of another, ie charity from the heart?
DR, 2014-08-12 08:33:11
1. A hospital that follows national and international regulations that govern bone marrow transplants may not disclose any identifying information about the patient.
In any case, a patient is not usually required to disclose his religion when seeking medical treatment.

2. Chances of success for the recipient involve so many variables it would be very hard practically speaking for a hospital to tell the donor what the chances are. What we can say is that the patient most likely has no other alternative.

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