I have decided to donate a kidney. I know that with organizations like Renewal you can choose to donate to someone specifically. I was wondering if it is mutar to browse potential recipients and see whose situation seems most dire - ie a parent with young children, or someone who is contributing greatly to society like a doctor or something. Even asking the question seems much more horrible than it did in my head, and gives me much pause. But is it considered a violation of ein dochin nefesh mipnei nefesh? Furthermore, if it is not, would there be an inyan to give to someone in your town because "irecha kodmin"? Thank you.

  • 9
    Thank you eliyahu for this amazing act of kindness!
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 20:28
  • 4
    With respect to how you should regulate your own conduct, I recommend that you consult your rabbi.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 20:30

2 Answers 2


The Mishnah in Horiyos (13a) sets out an order of priorities for different situations.

One of the situations presented, is regarding saving a person's life. Let's say, that I can save only ONE person in a group of people, whose lives are ALL in danger, which one should I choose to save?

Since a kidney donation is a life saving act, I suggest that the order of priorities spelled out there, are applicable here.

If this application of the Mishnah is correct, then not only is it permitted to browse through potential recipients to find the most deserving person, you might be obligated to do so, to find the person who Halacha dictates to be the most deserving.

As with all practical Halachic questions, contact your local Orthodox rabbi for a definitive ruling on your question.


First of all, kudos to you for this amazing selfless act!

I believe אין דוחין נפש מפני נפש means you mustn't cause someone to die in order to save someone else from death.

In this situation, you are not causing anyone to die. On the contrary, you are doing a heroic selfless act in order to save a life. You are not obliged to donate a part of your body to save someone from death, yet you are bravely doing so! You should be able to choose who you would like to give this amazing gift of life to.

This is made more clear when you think of the fact that one is perfectly permitted to choose to donate a kidney to someone close to them even if there are others who need it more direly.

Good luck, and wishing you an easy and quick recovery from the operation!

P.S. There's a Jewish organisation for kidney donations called Matnat Chaim

  • You will notice that answers on this forum are geared to be sourced.
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Commented Jul 16, 2019 at 4:38
  • You will notice that the above is mainly common sense... 😉 And especially since this is an online forum, I should hope nobody relies solely on answers provided here to make an important decision in their life.
    – HaMalka
    Commented Jul 16, 2019 at 5:48
  • @HaMalka what's common sense for you isn't common sense for others. Since we don't know you, why should we trust your sense of common sense?
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 16, 2019 at 11:37
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    Welcome to MiYodeya HaMalka. I saw your various first answers and thanks for them. Now since MY is different from other sites you might be used to, see here for a guide which might help understand the site. See in particular the focus on sourcing your answers, no one knows you so you need to bring proofs of your answers, that is how the site works. Looks like you know a great deal and could contribute significantly, but it will go much better if you understand the site' rules. Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    Commented Jul 16, 2019 at 12:22
  • 3
    See the other answer which disagrees with your common sense.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 16, 2019 at 20:19

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