President Shimon Peres set an example on Tuesday night when he signed an ADI Card supplied by Israel's National Transplant and Organ Center, indicating that in the event of his demise, his organs can be harvested to save another's life.
The president signed the card after lamenting that only 10 percent of Israelis have identified with one of the most important of Jewish principles - that the saving of life supersedes almost every other law in Judaism.
It was essential to increase the number of would-be organ donors, Peres told a large gathering of organ recipients and families who had donated organs of their loved ones.
"There is nothing more noble than saving the life of a person unknown to the donors," said Peres, who hosted the gathering at Beit Hanassi. He thanked those soldiers and civilians who have voluntarily signed ADI cards out of a sense of love for their fellow beings, and expressed admiration for and gratitude to those families who at a time of acute bereavement were able to think beyond their grief about what they could do for others.
He spoke of the Ryami family from Moshav Keshet on the Golan, who in July 2008 lost two children in a fire in their home. Seven-year-old Nitai died in the fire. Doctors battled for two days to save the life of 11-year-old Eliya, as people across the nation prayed for her recovery. But Eliya did not survive.
She was always giving to others, said her mother, Ayelet, and so it was natural that when the family was asked by the medical team whether Eliya's organs could be used to help others to live or to improve the quality of their lives, that the response was affirmative. Four people benefitted from Eliya's organs. Her corneas saved a Palestinian baby from blindness.
Nitai, said his mother, had been keen to dedicate a Torah scroll. He saved the money from every Hanukka gift and birthday present and anything else that came his way, and was totally focused on spending it on the Torah scroll. The family fulfilled his wish after his death, knowing how important it had been to him. "And we danced with the Torah," said his mother.
ADI runs monthly support groups that include families who lost loved ones 20 years ago and as recently as three months ago.
A video taken at one of these support group meetings that included new immigrants as well as native Israelis, both Jewish and non-Jewish, had people making remarks such as: "He made an impact. His organs continue to live instead of lying dead in the ground," and, "He was a generous person and it's clear that this would have been his choice."