Organ Donation in the IDF

Date: 22/03/2009, 7:58 PM     Author: IDF (Zahal) Website

On Sunday morning (Mar. 22), the IDF (Zahal)’s Chief Military Rabbi, Brig.-Gen. Avichai Ronzki and Chief Officer of the Medical Corps, Brig.-Gen. Dr. Nachman Ash, both signed an organ donation card, in cooperation with Israel’s National Transplant and Organ Donation Center (Adi), in a ceremony held in the Kiriya Military Headquarters in Tel Aviv.

At the Kiryia this morning, the Chief Medical Officer spoke about the significance of today’s events. “One of the IDF (Zahal)’s values, and particularly of the Medical Corps, is the preservation of life and a commitment to saving lives. The Adi donor card is a step in that direction.” The Chief Rabbi also commented on today’s significance: “The Torah itself is in favor of saving lives and we are happy to support this cause.”

Over the past year, the Medical Corps has worked diligently to raise awareness of this issue among commanders and soldiers of the IDF (Zahal) and provided guidance for the first non-commissioned donating officer, First Sgt. (res.) Netanel Rachamim, who previously served as a combat paramedic. This issue became much more real for First Sgt. Rachamim after experiencing the death of his brother. “My brother became ill and was in an urgent need of several organ transplants. My sister and I donated, each a different part.” He explained that the surgery was indeed successful, “however, shortly after, my brother’s health deteriorated and he passed away a few days after his operation.” In retrospect, it was clear to Netanel that if more people had signed the Adi donor card, it’s possible that his brother may be among the living today.

Shorly after Netanel was released from the IDF (Zahal), he decided to return to the IDF (Zahal) as a volunteer; he became the NCO of Organ Donation. During his service, he worked exclusively to raise the awareness on this issue amongst soldiers, and achieved an unprecedented total of signatures– 5,700.

Over the next few days, Netanel will finish his volunteer service in the IDF (Zahal) and his influence is in large part illustrated of the Chief Medical Corps Officer and of the Chief Rabbi signing the Adi organ donation card. “I am glad that we succeeded in creating awareness regarding the fact that medicine goes hand in hand with the Torah; the proof of this is here today with the signatures of the IDF (Zahal)’s Chief Rabbi and Chief of the Medical Corps.”

Over one thousand families are waiting for organ donations and Netanel hopes that these efforts will prove helpful in the future. “I did not want other families to go through what my family has gone through,” he explains.