Are porcine valves kosher?

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Protimenow

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The question about whether a jewish person who doesn't eat pork for religious reasons can use a porcine valve, or inject Lovenox (enoxaparin) because it's made with porcine serum, is one that may be of interest to jews who are concerned about it.

Aside from the fact that the valve may keep you alive (although bovine may be a good alternative) and Lovenox is an effective bridge if your INR gets too low, there may still be the question about whether or not you can use these things and still remain kosher.

A rabbi gave me an answer: although there's a prohibition against EATING pork, there's no such restriction (at least, the writer of the Torah didn't consider the possibility) against injecting or implanting a pig-related product.

So - for jews who are concerned about this, according to a rabbi (and there may be others who don't agree, if you ask enough rabbis), a porcine valve, or an injectable like Lovenox, are okay.
 

epstns

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I actually had a similar conversation with my rabbi prior to my surgery. I had already chosen the Edwards bovine pericardial valve, but wanted to have that discussion anyway.

Basically, my rabbi's opinion in interpretation of the Jewish laws is that the laws regarding Kosher foods do not apply to things that are done to prolong or preserve/save the patient's life. Life is more precious than an ancient dietary law. This was his interpretation of the laws of the Talmud.

We also discussed the fact that although the Jewish dietary laws were enacted with good intent and very sound medical knowledge of their times, these laws no longer have a health or safety impact. They are followed by traditionalists, as a way of observing the ancient faith as their forefathers are believed to have done.
 

Protimenow

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Yes, I've been told that people above 50 years old don't have to fast on Yom Kippur. A lot of people ignore that -- if they CAN, they DO. But, as you mentioned, the health of the person is more important than following certain commandments.

I've heard on the radio, the statement that the rules of kashrut (guidelines for kosher rules) were made years ago, long befoe we had the knowledge needed to make foods safe. They didn't know about how to select pork, or how to cook it so that it doesn't have tapeworms. They didn't know about selecting seafoods during months when they may be toxic. There were a lot of rules that, on their face, don't seem relevant today. A rabbi on the call in show said that these rules should be followed, even though they seem obsolete, because God asked that they be followed.

I realize that this is probably a pretty small readership, and this may be of little interest to many. There are a few main Jewish groups - the Orthodox, for whom strict observance of rules and tradition are paramount, the Conservative who observe many of the traditions (but not to the extent that Orthodox jews do, and the Reform with a much more relaxed view of how practice judaism. I won't go into this any deeper.

It all comes down to doing what you believe; what you think is right.

So - in the case of porcine valves, or medications that may be made with parts of a pig, this should be okay. (FWIW - gelatin might be made from bone marrow (or whatever source of gelatin is used) of a pig or another animal. Some rabbis, years ago, decided that because it's refined and so far removed from the pig, that it can be considered to be Kosher).
 

Paleowoman

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Dh tells me that in classes when he was coming up to 13 when he questioned the reason for certain laws, that the rabbi said “because God said so” - (he's not doing what God says ;) )

But this has made me wonder about Hindus and valves made from bovine pericardial tissue ? The cow is a sacred and protected animal in Hinduism. Of course that might mean a Hindu would be honoured to have a valve made from bovine tissue.
 

Protimenow

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Paleowoman - that's a great question. The Jewish position (as I understand it) is that, while God said to not eat pork (and other probitions about pork, if I understand them right), the prohibition ends there -- a porcine valve is okay, Enoxaparin, made with pork serum (or something) is okay as an injectible, and if anything from a pig is necessary to make you healthy or keep you healthy, it's okay. (Not all jews avoid pork - some enjoy it as much or more than non-jews).

The issue of an animal being sacred may be altogether different. If there any Hindus on the forum, I'd like to know their position.
 

Protimenow

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Pellicle - I don't intentionally eat pork. I've never intentionally had it - at least as far back as I can remember.

That said, I'm sure that it's found its way into many of the things that I've eaten through the years. I'm sure that I've had pie crusts that were made with lard. I know that a few years ago, I used to like the chili from a hot dog chain - and it was great until I learned that they put lard in it for better flavor. When I was younger (late teens) a new Italian restaurant opened and my family and I really liked their lasagna. When I asked what made it taste so good, the waiter said that it was the sausage that gave it the good flavor. I have probably eating things made with bacon drippings.

I don't lose any sleep over these mistakes -- I just try to be careful to avoid them, if I can. (For example, I don't eat Wienerschnitzel's chili).

It can be argued that there's no longer any practical reason for avoiding pork or pork products. I cook them for my wife (who isn't Jewish). A lot of jews eat pork. To me, if some pork or pork producs slip into my food, I don't worry about it -- I just don't actively seek such products - no matter how good they taste.
 

dornole

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Muslims also might need to weigh this issue whether porcine valves are halal? I’m sure there would be a diversity of viewpoints there as well.
 

johnmarkos

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Although for me this isn't the same as religious practices, as a vegetarian, I did have ethical concerns about getting an animal valve, when that was a possibility. What I wondered was this: does the rest of the animal get used for some purpose, or is it killed just for the valve? I'm not really a purist, so I would feel a lot better if the valve was just one use among many for the same animal. Of course, some people are vegetarians as a religious practice, so they might have more strenuous objections to getting an animal valve.

As it turns out, I ended up with a mechanical valve, so it wasn't an issue.
 
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Protimenow

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I suspect that when a valve is 'harvested,' the rest of the animal gets butchered and enters the food chain. It's possible that this was a really healthy animal (with a healthy valve), so the meat was probably pretty wholesome - as far as meat goes.

It's interesting how much of these animals get used - but probably so interesting that this would strengthen the resolve of most vegetarians and vegans to avoid meat. (However, you may be surprised by how much of the animal may be in things you eat or use). An old saying regarding pig butchers is that 'they use everything but the oink.'
 

johnmarkos

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An old saying regarding pig butchers is that 'they use everything but the oink.'
That saying was quoted in Upton Sinclair's The Jungle.

It's interesting how much of these animals get used - but probably so interesting that this would strengthen the resolve of most vegetarians and vegans to avoid meat.
I can't speak for any other vegetarians, but for me, it seems preferable not to waste the rest of the animal carcass, if it's already being used for a valve. But I tend to have a utilitarian attitude about these matters, and I know many vegetarians are more religious, purist, or deontological.
 
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pellicle

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but for me, it seems preferable not to waste the rest of the animal
indeed, I would agree with this.

I find it curious that on the one hand we praise cultures of antiquity yet revile our own which uses everything with less waste of anything.

My issues with the "meat industry" lay with things like their unsustainable practices. As an Australian who grew up around the grazing industry the way that I see "sow stalls" and other similar practices of high intensity farming are revolting.
 

Protimenow

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The Jungle WAS a sensational book.

The meat industry IS one that uses practices that can be appalling to us - and even worse to the poor animals subjected to it.

Personally, when I see things like 'unlimited wings,' I think about the millions of young chickens who are raised only for their meat. When I go to the store and see packs of six or more chicken breasts, I can't help but think about the millions of chickens that have short lives, probably stuck in small cages, just to feed us. And I think about how mamy of these chicken parts wind up uneaten.

It isn't all bad. In California, they've come up with laws relating to the treatment of chickens used for eggs - they can't be kept in small cages, eggs brought in from out of State have to comply with the animal treatment rules. This doesn't solve all the cruelty issues -- but it's a start.
 

Paleowoman

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I always buy meat that is from pasture reared animals certified organically fed with no hormones or antibiotics. The chickens too, bred in farms in the open air, only go in barns at night or bad weather and only certified organic food…and none of the chickens 'speed' reared but ones who have lived full lives.

I won’t ever buy meat from ‘factory’ farms where animals spend most of their ‘short' lives indoors and fed antibiotics and hormones to fatten them and foods which are not natural to them, no grass in the open air, for example…dreadfully cruel the ways those animals are reared.

Pasture reared, organically fed, meat is more expensive but it’s worth it ethically to me, and it happens to taste much, much better.
 

Protimenow

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Agian: what about farmed fish? They don't seem to be leading very good lives, and they cause a lot of pollution by being 'caged' in a relatively small area.
 

nobog

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We should probably keep the conservation to heart valves and related items.

Ancient Chinese Proverb:
"a wise man once said nothing"
 

pellicle

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We should probably keep the conservation to heart valves and related items.
although this started out as being a post about non-medical related values (I regard religion as non medical and personal), so at least this isn't one of those threads that morphs from a science to another topic.

(*evidence that I'm perhaps not wise)
 

Protimenow

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Conservation?

I started this thread, with a title that clearly implied that it would deal with a religious issue.

The issue is real to some jews, and also to Muslims and possibly others with different religions.

The question is about whether an observant person of a particular religion would NOT choose a tissue valve for religious reasons. This IS a concern for some people. The answer is not to put your head in the sand until it's too late to make a change.

This isn't politics. The religious issues are real. Also - getting the answer that it's okay to use a porcine valve may actually help steer some patients away from mechanical if religious beliefs are a factor in deciding which valve to use.
 

Agian

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Agian: what about farmed fish? They don't seem to be leading very good lives, and they cause a lot of pollution by being 'caged' in a relatively small area.
I'm trying to be as humane as possible, but the main reason I tried to cut out meat was health related. The problem I have is that you need to replace protein with another energy source. In my case it's been carbs, which is probably worse.
 
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