MRI scans ‘lost through weakness’

THE Jewish establishment did not fight hard enough to get invasive post-mortem examinations replaced by electronic body scans, it was claimed this weak.

Organ retention campaigner Elaine Isaacs claimed that current legislation was “very weak” — because it did not offer MRI scans.

“If Jewish authorities had pursued it more aggressively, the words ‘MRI scan’ would have been included,” she said.

Jewish communities are uncomfortable with post- mortems because they conflict with religious beliefs about the sanctity of the body.

Mancunian Elaine Isaacs said: “The words ‘MRI scan’ would have given the legislation stronger weight. Without those words, the whole thing was weak.”

She was speaking after London coroner Mary Hassel claimed she had been “bullied” by the Jewish community for not complying with requests for MRI scans instead of post-mortems.”

She added: “We know that the coroner has the discretion on whether or not to grant an MRI scan.”

Following Ms Hassel’s complaint, Rabbi Avraham Pinter, of London’s Adass Yisroel Burial Society, said that Jews had historically relied on the goodwill of the coroner.

But Mrs Isaacs said: “I always knew that some coroners would have some loopholes.

“However, I did not get the support from the Jewish powers-that-be for those words to be included in the legislation.

“The Manchester Beth Din said they had good relations with coroners here. But since the new legislation, it should not be a question of relying on the coroners’ goodwill.

“I said that it wasn’t about what goes on just in Manchester. We should have shown unity with people all over the UK.

“It isn’t just about us Jews. There are others who also strongly object to invasive post-mortems.

“Coroners come and go. We cannot rely on our relations with individual coroners.”

Mrs Isaacs has campaigned strongly against organ retention since she discovered that the brain of her husband Cyril, who died in 1987, was retained during a post-mortem without her permission.

Rabbi Pinter paid tribute to Mrs Isaacs’ work to promote MRI scans.

He told the Jewish Telegraph: “She has done a lot of wonderful work forcefully. I have the highest respect for her. She has been great.

“She should not underestimate the work she has done, although she may have felt that everyone was not working with her.

“She achieved more than anyone else. She actually got a lot of people working, who would not have done so.

“I have spoken to her many times. I found her quite forceful.

“But she needed to be like that to get things done for the good memory of her husband.”

Rabbi Pinter acknowledged that Mrs Isaacs had been critical of the Jewish establishment for not pushing hard enough.

He said: “Her experience was most terrible and regretful, which showed how things could go wrong. Things have moved on since those times.

“But coroners still have these powers. Mrs Isaacs is quite right. We should not have to rely on particular coroners’ goodwill or sometimes lack of it.”

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