Insulin (cont.)/Pig Organs/Stem Research

Question

Rabbi Lauffer, Thank you for your quick reply. My husband (an oncologist/ hematologist) has a patient who has been on beef insulin for over 30 years, so she never changed over to the newer stuff because the old stuff worked well for her. She does keep strict kosher. When my husband was telling me about her case I asked if she was allowed to have the pork insulin and he didn’t know. He didn’t know if she ate dairy either. She apparently eats steak 4 times a day to help deal with an iron problem. She might not eat dairy at all. On a related issue…Would someone who kept kosher be able to receive an organ from a pig? On a non-related issue… What is the Jewish view on embryonic stem cell research? Thank you for your time! Sharon Damsker

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Answers

  1. That is truly fascinating! I wasn’t aware that anyone still used the old kind of insulin. Anyway, there is no problem at all with using it although, as you pointed out, it does sound pretty unlikely that she gets much of a chance to eat dairy products in her day!

    There is no Halachic reason not to use animal organs if they can be matched. I know that certain pig organs very closely resemble human organs and they could be used as soon as medical research reaches the point where they can be used.

    There are two main types of stem cell research that have been done on embryos. One is to take leftover embryos from IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization) and use some of those cells for scientific research. Another way is to use embryos from terminated pregnancies.

    Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch, one of the gernerations greatest Halachic authorities, was asked this question and he said that if the embryo is anyway going to be thrown out then there is no difference whether you use them for scientific research or not. In that case there is nothing wrong with using it and in fact will definitely be good, because of all the potential medical
    advancements that can come from it. However if the embryo is over three months old it is forbidden.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team