CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - The Knesset (parliament) passed organ donation legislation Monday, which complies with Jewish law regarding time of death and provides compensation for Israelis wanting to donate an organ during their lifetimes.
Member of Knesset (MK) Aryeh Eldad (National Union/National Religious Party) and MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima) each sponsored one of the bills.
Eldad's bill addressed compensation for live donors -- 18,000 shekels (about $5,100) -- for the organ itself plus lost work time for surgery and recuperation. The law includes a 5-million shekel (less than $1.5 million) provision for a public education campaign.
Schneller's legislation deals with religious and ethical issues regarding time of death and was endorsed by many Sephardic (Oriental) rabbis, including Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Shas chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
The bill also imposes up to a three-year prison term for anyone convicted of trafficking in organs, either in Israel or abroad.
According to statistics provided by the Israeli daily Haaretz, last year only 61 out of 145 families asked to consider organ donation agreed. Of that number, 231 people received transplants, meaning that organs from one donor extended the lives of four people.
The government hopes the new laws will boost organ donation and save hundreds of more lives.
There was some opposition to the legislation.
United Torah Judaism (UTJ), headed by Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, said Jewish law considers a brain dead person to be alive.
"A brain dead person is a living being," UTJ MK Moshe Gafni said in remarks on the Knesset floor.
Some members of the ultra-left-wing Meretz party are concerned that offering compensation to living donors could lead to legalized trading in human organs.
The legislation tempts financially strapped Israelis to sell their organs for roughly $5,000.