Donating Organs & Tissue

Thu, Feb 5th, 2009 1:42:12 pm

 

What do religions say regarding organ and tissue transplant?
Can Jewish donate organs or blood to save others (non-Jewish)? [read what the four major branches of Judaism say]
What does Protestant Christianity say? [Baptists? Disciples of Christ? Methodist?]
How about Catholics? [Does the Pope allow it?]

Hindus? [Will this affect them coming back in another form (reincarnation)?] . . .
Evangelical? [Is there anything from the Holy Ghost on this?] . . .

 

Many religious questions, like many scriptures, rarely have easy answers. But the question of organ donation is surprisingly simple for some.

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Recently, the LDS Church updated its statement on organ

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donation by reflecting on the life-saving nature of organ and tissue donation.

The new statement reads:

"The donation of organs and tissues is a selfless act that often results in great benefit to individuals with medical conditions. The decision to will or donate one's own body organs or tissue for medical purposes, or the decision to authorize the transplant of organs or tissue from a deceased family member, is made by the individual or the deceased member's family. The decision to receive a donated organ should be made after receiving competent medical counsel and confirmation through prayer."

The old statement read:

"The decision to will or donate one's own body organs or tissue for medical purposes, or the decision to authorize the transplant of organs or tissue from a deceased family member, is made by the individual or the deceased member's family. The decision to receive a donated organ should be made after receiving competent medical counsel and confirmation through prayer."

Most mainstream religions either support organ donation as an "act of charity" or leave each individual to decide for himself or herself.  While some lay members have worried about desecrating the body before burial, these concerns are alleviated when they learn that donation allows for open casket funerals and will not delay funeral arrangements. Also, there are no costs to donor families for donation.

One donor can save up to nine lives through organ donation and enhance the lives of 50 people through tissue donation. These are saintly statistics when one considers that 20 people die each day waiting for a life-saving organ transplant, amounting to 8,000 unnecessary deaths each year. 

Intermountain Donor Services, Utah's and southern Idaho's organ and tissue recovery agency, supplies congregations around the state with information for religious leaders to address donation from a spiritual perspective.

What does your religion believe about organ and tissue donation?  The United Network for Organ Sharing compiled the following list.

Baptists: Donation is a compassionate and personal choice.

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Buddhism: Donation is a matter of individual conscience, but they place high value on acts of compassion.

Catholicism: Donation is an act of charity and love.

Christian Science: Donation is an individual decision.

Episcopal: Donating blood, organs and tissues emulates Christ's sacrifice for mankind.
Hinduism: Donation is an individual decision.

Islam: Saving lives and enriching lives fulfills the first right in Islam, after Almight God's Right (to be worshipped with no other gods beside god). Donation made without stipulation of exclusion (anyone may be the receiver).

Jehovah's Witness: Donation is an individual decision, but all blood must be removed before a transplant.

Judaism: The four major branches encourage donation, though donation is extremely low in Israel.

Lutheran: Donation contributes to the well being of humanity.
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LDS: Donation is a selfless act to be considered on an individual basis.

Pentecostal: Donation is a personal choice.

Presbyterian: Donation is supported and encouraged.

Quakers: Donation is an individual decision.

Seventh-Day Adventist: Donation is strongly encouraged.

Shintoism: This Japanese religion expresses concern about "injuring" a dead body.
Unitarian Universalist: Donation is an act of love.

United Church of Christ: Donation is strongly encouraged.

United Methodist: Donation is encouraged to save lives.

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Get the Facts:
Religious Perspectives

 

Major religions support organ and tissue donation - as a way of helping others, as an individual's right to choose and as an unparalleled gift of generosity and compassion. Find out your religion's perspective on organ and tissue donation.

Perspectives by Religion

Is it the right decision?

Choosing to give the Greatest Gift

Religious Leader Perspectives

To Support Organ and Tissue Donation, Say "Yes" - Sign Up Now!


Perspectives by Religion

AME & ZION AME

AMISH

ASSEMBLY OF GOD

BAPTIST

BUDDHISM

CATHOLICSM

CHRISTIAN SCIENCE

CHRISTIAN CHURCH/DISCIPLES OF CHRIST

CHURCH OF CHRIST/INDEPENDENT

EPISCOPAL

GREEK ORTHODOX

HINDUISM

INDEPENDENT CONSERVATIVE EVANGELICAL

ISLAM

JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES

JUDAISM

LUTHERAN

MENNONITE

MORMON

PRESBYTERIAN

QUAKERS

SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST

UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST

UNITED METHODIST

UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST

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AME & ZION AME - Organ and tissue donation is viewed as an act of neighborly love and charity by these denominations. They encourage all members to support donation as a way of helping others.

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AMISH - The Amish will consent to donation if they know that it is for the health and welfare of the transplant recipient. They would be reluctant to donate their organs if the transplant outcome was known to be questionable. John Hostetler, an authority on Amish religion, says in his book Amish Society, that "The Amish believe that since God created the human body, it is God who heals: however, nothing in the Amish understanding of the Bible forbids them from using modern medical services including surgery, anesthesia, hospitalization, dental work, blood transfusions and immunization."

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ASSEMBLY OF GOD - The Church views the decision to donate as an individual choice. Organ and tissue donation is highly supported by the denomination but the decision to donate is up to the individual.

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BAPTIST - The church leaves the decision up to the individual and donation is supported as an act of charity.

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BUDDHISM - Buddhists believe that organ and tissue donation is a matter of individual conscience and places high value on acts of compassion. The importance of letting loved ones know your wishes is stressed.

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CATHOLICSM - Catholics view organ and tissue donation as an act of charity, love and self-sacrifice. Organ and tissue donation is morally and ethically acceptable. Pope John Paul II stated, "The Catholic Church would promote the fact that there is a need for organ donors and that Christians should accept this as a ‘challenge to their generosity and fraternal love' so long as ethical principles are followed."

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CHRISTIAN SCIENCE - Christian Scientists normally rely on spiritual means of healing instead of medical. They are free, however, to choose whatever form of medical treatment they desire, including transplants.

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CHRISTIAN CHURCH/DISCIPLES OF CHRIST

There are no prohibitions against organ transplants.

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CHURCH OF CHRIST/INDEPENDENT

Organ transplants should not be a religious problem.

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EPISCOPAL - The Episcopal Church passed a resolution in 1982 that recognizes the life-giving benefits of organ, blood and tissue donation. All Christians are encouraged to become donors "as part of their ministry to others in the name of Christ, who gave his life in its fullness."

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GREEK ORTHODOX - The Church supports donation as a way to better human life in the form of transplantation that would lead to improvements in the treatment and prevention of disease.

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HINDUISM - As stated by the Hindu Temple Society of North America, organ and tissue donation is an individual decision and Hindus are not prohibited by religious law from donating their organs or tissues. According to H.L. Trivedi in Transplanting Proceedings, "There is nothing in the Hindu religion indicating that parts of humans could not be used to alleviate the sufferings of other humans."

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INDEPENDENT CONSERVATIVE EVANGELICAL - Generally, Evangelicals have no opposition to organ and tissue donation. Each church is autonomous and leaves the decision to donate up to the individual.

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ISLAM - The religion of Islam strongly believes in the principle of saving human lives. According to A. Sachedina in Transplanting Proceedings, "The majority of the Muslim scholars, belonging to various schools of Islamic law, have invoked the principle of priority of saving human life and have permitted the organ transplant as a necessity to procure that noble end."

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JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES - According to the Watch Tower Society, Jehovah's Witnesses believe donation is a matter of individual decision. Jehovah's Witnesses are often assumed to be against donation because of the opposition to blood transfusions. However, this merely means that all blood must be removed from organs and tissues before being transplanted.

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JUDAISM - There is strong support and encouragement for organ donation within all branches of Judaism. According to many authorities, if one is in a position to donate an organ to save another's life, it is permitted (and some say even obligatory) to do so, even if the donor never knows who the beneficiary will be. The infinite worth of a human being and the imperative to save a life when and where possible is a basic principle of Jewish law and ethics. This can include the donation of corneas since eyesight restoration can be considered a lifesaving operation.

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LUTHERAN - Lutherans passed a resolution in 1984 stating that donation contributes to the well-being of humanity and can be "an expression of sacrificial love for a neighbor in need." They call on "members to consider donating...and to make any necessary family or legal arrangements, including the use of a signed donor card."

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MENNONITE - There is no prohibition against donation and transplantation in the Mennonite faith. Church officials state such decisions are individual ones.

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MORMON - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints believes the decision to donate is an individual one made in conjunction with family, medical personnel and prayer. They do no oppose donation.

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PRESBYTERIAN - Presbyterians encourage and support donation. They respect a person's right to make decisions regarding his or her own body.

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QUAKERS - Officials for the Quaker faith do not oppose organ donation and transplantation. The decision, they say, is an individual one.

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SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST - Donation and transplantation are strongly encouraged. In fact, Seventh Day Adventists have many transplant hospitals, including Loma Linda in California which specializes in pediatric heart transplants.

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UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST - Organ and tissue donation is widely supported by Unitarian Universalists who view it as an act of love and selfless giving.

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UNITED METHODIST - The Church issued a policy statement saying that the "United Methodist Church recognizes the life-giving benefits of organ and tissue donation, and thereby encourages all Christians to become organ and tissue donors...as a part of their ministry to others in the name of Christ, who gave His life in its fullness."

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UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST- When advocated by medical practitioners to improve or preserve human life, this procedure is encouraged, providing all appropriate consents are obtained.

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Is it the right decision?

You may have questions and reservations about becoming an organ donor, especially concerning how your religion views your decision. In fact, all major religions support organ and tissue donation - as a way of helping others, as an individual's right to choose and as an unparalleled gift of generosity and compassion.

You may also have concerns about customary funeral or memorial arrangements if you become a donor. However, organ and tissue donation does not interfere with traditional funeral plans, including those with open-casket viewings. In addition, your loved ones will not incur any costs simply because you are an organ donor.

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Choosing to Give the Greatest Gift

Modern medicine, supported by ancient religious beliefs, provides each of us with an extraordinary opportunity to perform the supreme act of charity - to save another human being's life.

Today, you can make a choice to give hope, healing and life - the greatest gift of all - by becoming an organ and tissue donor. More than 6,500 Pennsylvanians - men, women and children of all ages - wait for the phone call that can mean the difference between life and death. We invite you to discuss this selfless decision with your religious leaders and family members. Choose to give the gift of life - place the donor designation on your driver's license, learner's permit or state identification card. Sign Up Now!

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Religious Leader Perspectives

"Many devout people believe that God is the creator of all life and has given us bodies which, in a sense, are on loan to enable us to do good. One of the greatest gifts we can give when our body is no longer animated is to pass on the gift of God to another child of God. Our gift helps them to continue giving."

Bishop Anthony G. Bosco
Bishop Emeritus 
Catholic Diocese of Greensburg

Allah Decrees, "Whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption in the land - it is as if he had slain all of mankind entirely. And whoever saves one - it is as if he had saved mankind entirely." Quran 5:32

Chaplain Yusuf Estes,
US National Chaplain (retired)
Washington, D.C.

"In view of the wonderful advancements made in medical science concerning organ and tissue donation, God has shown favor in this area and I believe that He is pleased when we help to bring forth life and a better quality of life through donation."

Bishop Ernest C. Morris, Sr. D.D. 
Former President 
Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity

"Anyone who saves one life . . . it is as if they have saved an entire world."

Jewish Law Code
Mishnah, Sanhedrin 4:5
Provided by Rabbi Robert Rubin
Congregation Beth T'fillah of Overbrook Park

 

"God calls on us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. We can answer that call by deciding to be organ and tissue donor."

Reverend Bonnie Camarda
President 
Hispanic Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity

 

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Say "Yes" to Organ and Tissue Donation - Sign Up Now!.

 

 





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