I am making an inquiry regarding one of my congregants, whose wife is suffering from acute Alzheimer’s disease.
He has been approached by a local hospital, asking him to grant permission to use his wife’s organs for medical research in the event of her death.
I fully realize that the dismemberment of the body is forbidden by halakha, but I seem to remember that some authorities permit organ donations if they are used exclusively for medical research and the remains are buried in accordance with Jewish law.
Please inform me of your opinion on this matter, and let me have a speedy reply as the matter is urgent.
There is a long list of posqim who forbid autopsies for the purposes of research. They include Noda bi-Yehuda, Hatam Sofer, Sha‘agat Aryeh, Ya‘abets, Maram Shiq, Binyan Tsiyon, Hazon Ish, Gesher ha-Hayyim, Seridei Eish, Yabiya Omer, Iggerot Moshe, Tsits Eli‘ezer, Minhat Yitshak. The only poseq of any note that I know of who permits this is Mishpetei Uziel, and obviously one cannot give a heter based on this because of rov minyan ve-rov binyan shel gedolei ‘olam.
The question has been dealt with at length in Nishmat Avraham volume 2 (Yoreh De‘ah), pp. 255-56.
Dear Dr. Halperin, I need an answer quickly to know if I should reduce a twin IVF pregnancy where testing reveals complications. My doctor told