Religious Issues

 

A common question that arises when people are asked to donate their organs and tissues or those of their loved ones is: "Is my decision compatible with my religious beliefs?"
A Gallup Poll found that less than 10 percent were aware that their religion has laws or doctrines governing organ and tissue donation. Though the answers vary from one faith group to another, research from agencies such as the National Kidney Foundation have found that a majority of religions do support transplantation. The following are just a few of those findings: 

 

Amish  Baptist 
Buddhism  Roman Catholic 
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)        Church of Christ (Independent) 
Episcopal  Jehovah's Witness 
Judaism  Lutheran 
Presbyterian  Seventh-Day Adventist 
United Methodist   

Amish top of page
The Amish will consent to transplantation if they are certain 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 considered to be questionable.
Baptist
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Organ transplants are generally approved when they do not seriously endanger the donor and when they offer real medical hope for the recipient. A transplant must offer the possibility of physical improvement and the extension of human life.
Buddhism
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Buddhists believe that organ donation is a matter of individual conscience. There is no written resolution on the issue, however, Reverend Gyomay Massao, president and founder of the Buddhist Temple of Chicago and practicing minister says, "We honor those people who donate their bodies and organs to the advancement of medical science and to saving lives."
Roman Catholic
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Catholics view organ donation as an act of charity, fraternal love and self-sacrifice. Transplants are ethically and morally acceptable to the Vatican. Pope John Paul II issued a statement in support of organ donation in 1990 when addressing a group of nephrologists. He stated, "The Church has always made the care of the sick one of her principal concerns. In the particular case of renal illness, she invites directors of Catholic institutions to promote awareness of the need for organ donors, while taking into account both the progress made by science and the necessity of overcoming all unjustified risks. Those who believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave his life for the salvation of all, should recognize the urgent need for a ready availability of organs for renal transplants a challenge to their generosity and fraternal love."
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
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No prohibitions against organ transplants. As a means of treatment, it is understood to be essentially a medical judgment, in consultation with patient, family and donor or donor's family.
Church or Christ (Independent)
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Transplants are not a religious problem.
Episcopal
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The Episcopal Church finds nothing offensive in organ transplants provided the moral integrity of the donor is not violated.
Jehovah's Witness
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Jehovah's Witnesses do not encourage organ donation, but believe it is a matter for individual conscience according to the Watch Tower Society, the legal corporation for the religion. Although the group is often assumed to ban transplantation because of its taboo against blood transfusions, it does not oppose donating or receiving organs. All organs and tissues must be completely drained of blood before transplantation.
Judaism
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Judaism teaches that saving a human life takes precedence over maintaining the sanctity of the human body. Rabbi Moses Tendler states, "If one is in the position to donate an organ to save another's life, it's obligatory to do so, even if the donor family never knows who the beneficiary will be. The basic principal of Jewish ethics - 'the infinite work of the human being' - also includes donation of corneas, since eyesight restoration is considered a life-saving operation.
Lutheran
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The ability to transplant organs from a deceased to a living person is considered a genuine medical advancement.
Presbyterian
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Presbyterians endorse and encourage organ donation. They respect individual conscience and a person's right to make decisions regarding his or her own body.
Seventh-Day Adventist
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The individual and the family have the right to receive or to donate those organs which will restore any of the senses or will prolong the life profitably.
United Methodist
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By resolution, "the Church recognizes the life-giving benefits or organ and tissue donation, and thereby encourages all Christians to become organ and tissue donors by signing and carrying cards or drivers' licenses, attesting to their commitment of such organs upon their death, to those in need, as part of their ministry to others in the name of Christ, who gave his life that we might have life in its fullness."