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.
The Amish consent to transplantation on the basis that it is for the well-being of the transplant recipient. The Amish people are reluctant, however, to donate their organs if transplant outcomes are uncertain.
Anglicans see the offering of life to and for others reflecting the Christian principle of interdependence within the human community. Anglicans emphasize the importance of the role of hospital chaplains in providing spiritual and human support throughout the organ transplant process.
There is nothing in the Baha’i teaching which forbids donation. The guardian of the Baha’i faith has stated, “…it seems a noble thing to do.”
Organ donation is encouraged and supported by Baptists because it is seen as an act of charity. The Church however, leaves the decision to donate up to the individual.
In 1993, The Church of the Annual Conference developed a resolution supporting and encouraging organ and tissue donation. “We have the opportunity to help others out of love for Christ through the donation of organs and tissues.”
Buddhists believe that organ and tissue donation is a matter of individual conscience and place high value on acts of compassion.
His Holiness Benedict XVI (November 7, 2008) stated that “the act of love which is expressed with the gift on one’s vital organs remains a genuine testimony of charity that is able to look beyond death so that life always wins.”
The Christian Church encourages organ and tissue donation, stating that “we were created for God’s glory and for sharing God’s love.” A 1985 resolution, adopted by the General Assembly, encourages “…members of the Christian Church to enroll as organ donors and prayerfully support those who have received an organ transplant.”
Christian Scientists rely on spiritual instead of medical means of healing. However, they are free to choose whatever medical form of treatment they desire which includes organ and tissue transplantation. Organ and tissue donation is an individual decision.
Organ transplants should not be a religious problem.
Latter-day Saints (Mormons) see the decision to donate as an individual one that is made in conjunction with family, medical personnel, and prayer.
The Church of the Nazarene encourages its members who do not object personally to support donor/recipient anatomical organs through living wills and trusts. Further, they appeal for a morally and ethically fair distribution of organs to those qualified to receive them.
The Episcopal Church passed a resolution in 1982 that recognizes the life-giving benefits of organ, blood, and tissue donation. Church members are encouraged to become organ, blood, and tissue donors.
The Greek Orthodox Church has no objection, whether doctrinal or moral, to the transplantation of organs on medical advice. The reception and donation of organs for this purpose reveals a profound act of loving solidarity and sacrifice among people.
Hindus believe the soul is immortal and is reborn in new physical forms. There is nothing in the Hindu religion indicating that part of the dead human body cannot be used to alleviate the suffering of other humans.
Generally, Evangelicals have had no opposition to organ and tissue donation. Each church is autonomous and leaves the decision to donate up to the individual.
In 1983, the Muslim Religious Council initially rejected organ donation by followers of Islam, but it has reversed its position, provided donors consent in writing prior to death. The organs of Muslim donors must be transplanted immediately. Islam strongly believes in the principle of saving human life. Many schools of Islamic Law have invoked the principle that it is a priority to save lives and have permitted organ transplant as a way to achieve that principle.
Jehovah’s Witnesses agree that organ transplantation or organ donation is a personal decision. All organs and tissues, however, must be completely drained of blood before transplantation.
All four branches of Judaism support and encourage donation. Both the Reform and Conservative movements also have policy statements strongly supporting donation.
The Lutheran Church believes that the decision to donate one’s organs and/or tissues should be left up to the individual.
Mennonites have no formal position on donation, but are not opposed to it. They believe the decision to donate is up to the individual and/or his or her family.
Robert E. Sawyer, President, Provincial Elders Conference, Moravian Church of America, Southern Province, states, “There is nothing in our doctrine or policy that would prevent a Moravian pastor from assisting a family in making a decision to donate or not to donate an organ.” It is therefore, a matter of individual choice.
The May 10, 1995, issue of The Final Call, writes of Minister Louis Farrakhan’s “budding partnership with Black organ donor professionals.” The Minister is in favor of organ and tissue donation, but believes that greater emphasis should be placed on preventing diseases that lead to organ failure and health problems.
Traditional Judaism believes that the sanctity of the human body covers each of its members and organs. So, where any part of the body is separated from the corpus, it too requires burial. However, where an organ is to be transplanted to save the life of a patient or improve his health, then it is permitted. In 1991, The Rabbinical Council of America, approved organ donations as permissible and even required, from brain-dead patients.
Pentecostals believe that the decision to donate one’s organs and tissues should be left up to the individual.
Presbyterians encourage and support organ and tissue donation. They respect a person’s right to make decisions regarding their own body.
The authorized removal of the eyes of a deceased person in order to restore the sight of a survivor is acceptable. This applies to any proper and scientifically effectual transplant of any organ from a deceased person to a living person.
Quakers believe it is essential that the rights of all individuals are respected and that free and informed consent be obtained from the next of kin. They believe the giving of human organs makes possible a richer life and alleviation of suffering of others.
Romani people believe that for one year after a person dies, the soul retraces its steps. All of the parts of the body must be intact because the soul maintains a physical shape.
Although transplant procedures are carried out at many Seventh Day Adventist health care institutions around the world, the church has made no formal declaration regarding organ donation and transplantation.
In Shinto, the dead body is considered to be impure and dangerous, and thus quite powerful. It is difficult to obtain consent from bereaved families for organ donation and may be regarded as causing an injury to the dead body.
Organ and tissue donation is widely supported by Unitarian Universalists. They view it as an act of love and selfless giving.
When advocated by medical practitioners to improve or preserve human life, organ and tissue donation and transplantation are encouraged, provided that donor and recipient consent has been secured.
A 1992 resolution of the United Methodist Church states, “Donation is to be encouraged, assuming appropriate safeguards (are put into place) against hastening death and (that the) determination of death (is declared) by reliable criteria.” The resolution further states, “Pastoral-care persons should be willing to explore these options as a normal part of conversation with patients and their families.”
The Wesleyan Church supports donation as a way of helping others. They believe that God’s “ability to resurrect us is not dependent on whether or not all our parts were connected at death.”
Information taken in part from: SEOPF/UNOS, Organ and Tissue Donation: A Reference Guide for Clergy, 4th ed., 2000, Cooper ML, Taylor GJ, eds. Richmond, VA; The National Kidney Foundation of Eastern Missouri & Metro East, Inc.; and The Organ and Tissue Donation: A Reference Guide for Clergy - South-Eastern Organ Procurement Foundation, United Network for Organ Sharing.
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