So let's assume for the moment we get agreement on the idea that Orthodox Jews may not donate organs prior to cardiac death but are permitted to receive organs that were harvested after brain stem death. Where do we go from there?
I would suggest there would be two negative consequences to concern ourselves with.
Firstly, Orthodox Jews would be in a position where with regards to transplants they would largely be takers and not givers. We are supposed to be a light unto the nations and a generous people. Without violating halacha, we need to consider how we can live up to those goals.
Secondly, there will be a backlash from many people who will not understand the halachic principles that drove us to this point. We need to be able to provide concrete, relevant examples of Jewish generosity to others in order to counter these perceptions.
I'd suggest that the Orthodox Jewish leaders might want to encourage the following:
- Orthodox Jews should be routinely donate blood several times per year.
- Orthodox Jews should strive to be registered as potential donors for transplants that can be done by a live donor, for example kidney transplants.
- Orthodox Jews should routinely register to donate organs which can be harvested after cardiac death e.g, corneas.
- Orthodox Jewish philanthropists and medical researchers who are looking for areas in which to do their work should consider supporting research into alternatives to transplants as the technology to support them becomes practical - artificial organs, cloned organs, etc.