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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Playing the 'protexia' Card

I read an interesting statistic yesterday:

62% of Israelis surveyed indicated that they would be willing to donate at least some of their life-saving organs after they were done using them (i.e. after they died). That's a pretty impressive number considering that there is a lot of confusion and misinformation floating around about whether, and/or to what extent, organ donation is permitted under Jewish Law.

But despite nearly two thirds of the population indicating that they would donate organs, only 10% of the population has actually signed up for an Adi donor card which would make it possible for them to do so.


Adi Card

I've never been very good at math, but even I can figure out that if 62% of the population says they are willing to do something, but only 10% have taken the necessary step to ensure that this 'something' can actually happen... well, Houston, we have a problem.

Now, I don't normally have a lot of confidence in the government's ability to solve problems (What's the old saying? 'If you aren't part of the solution, there's a lot of money to be made perpetuating the problem'). But based on what I've been reading, I think the mighty Israeli bureaucracy might actually have a good idea (for a change).

Basically, their big idea boils down to something Israelis hold near and dear: Protexia.

[protexia is a slang term which describes having an inside track to limited goods, services and/or opportunities. In short, knowing someone who knows someone... knowing how to short circuiting the system (in your favor) by tapping personal connections, etc..]

Simply put, anyone who signs up for an organ donor card will (along with their immediate family members) be given priority over non-card holders when it comes to receiving donor organs.

I'm sure there are medical ethicist out there who might argue that life-saving organs should be prioritized blindly to those who need them most urgently... full stop. But it seems to me that if the goal is to change the organ donation scenario from 'who lives and who dies?' to 'who goes first?'... we're going to have to make the potential donor pool as large as possible.

And this newly enforced government ruling seems (to me) to be a hell of a good way to do just that.

I've had my Adi donor card in my wallet since 2007, and a corresponding HOD (Halachic Organ Donor) card for the US since about the same time.

Yes, the act of signing up for any kind of a donor card is an unpleasant acknowledgement that we will (one day) die. As obvious as that may be, it is a reality that most of us do all kinds of mental gymnastics to avoid confronting.

In a nod to this completely understandable mental stumbling block, the Israeli government has decided to appeal to arguably the only thing that might force people to overcome their own (and their family's) fear of mortality: Their will to live (at least a little longer).

While we all hope that we will live to 120, and pass away quietly in our sleep surrounded by loved ones... we understand deep down that our life's trajectory is probably weighted far more in favor of an earlier... less pleasant demise. And in many cases, the only hope for gaining a few more precious years on this mortal coil, is to have access to a life-saving donor organ.

And if there is one thing Israelis understand... it is that when demand outstrips supply (as it surely does in the case of donor organs), having protexia for oneself (and for ones immediate family) can take a lot of the chill off the contemplation of death.

I strongly encourage anyone reading this in Israel to sign up for an Adi organ donor card.

The English version is here... and the Hebrew form is here. It is quick and easy, and within a few days, you'll get your very own protexia Adi card in the mail.

Knowing that you have protexia can be an incredibly comforting thing... even if you never have to use it.

Posted by David Bogner on November 16, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack