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'Quick Help' Page: What Is The Catholic Position On Organ Donation?

 

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Organ Donation

Catholic Position on Organ Donation

Is Organ Donation Allowed?

Actual Death Vs. 'Brain Death'

'Redefining Death'

Vital Organs | Non-Vital Organs

Organ Transplant

Organ Transplants

Fifth Commandment

5th Commandment

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Arrow Question / Issue:

"What is the Church's stance on donating organs?"

 

Arrow Answer / Resources:

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Basically, the Church doesn't condemn vital organ donation (assuming proper permission from the donor) if the person voluntarily donating is REALLY and truly dead (see below). Without meeting those conditions, organ donation would NOT be acceptable. For example, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states that...

"It is not morally acceptable if the donor or his [authorized] proxy has not given explicit consent. Moreover, it is not morally admissible to bring about the disabling mutilation or death of a human being, even in order to delay the death of other persons." (emphasis added)

The problem with organ donation in today's world is that often the person is not really dead when the organs are harvested, so the organ harvesting actually causes the person's death (a violation of the Fifth Commandment).+ Causing death by harvesting organs is NOT licit, as per the Catholic teachings above.

It is commonly known that 'death' has been 'redefined' by certain persons in the medical community in recent years so that essential organs may now be harvested from living persons – this is simply a medical fact. Organ donation is 'big business' with potential for much profit. And there is an ongoing effort to push the line even more to declare 'death' earlier so that more organs can be harvested. The term "brain death" has been invented, but this is a manufactured term so that persons can 'legally' (but NOT morally!) harvest organs from people who are not actually dead – it is interesting to read accounts of so-called "brain dead" persons carrying a baby to term, moving around, etc. Clearly these persons were not dead! Also, some 'brain dead' persons have woken up, even right before organ donation was to occur. You can find many stories of these occurrences online. A person is not truly dead until the soul leaves the body, and this can occur even after apparent death (that is why a priest may be called for Extreme Unction even after apparent death). It is never licit to remove organs if doing so causes death. And vital organs may be medically unsuitable/unusable if actual death has occurred (that is why some people have an interest in removing these organs before a person actually dies). Please do keep in mind that it is a basic tenet of our faith that it is NEVER licit to do evil so that good may result (or to use more popular terminology "the ends do NOT justify the means"). There is NO exception to this, no matter how good the end is that one has in view. Furthermore, there is concern that tests may be done in view of organ donation that might actually harm patients, and that relatives be pressured into donating organs. In the interests of expediency, I'll just point you to a flier on our site that contains a number of important points you might want to consider. It is entitled "Organ Donation: Act of Charity or License to Kill?", and it may be found here. You may also find many sites online (e.g. pro-life websites) that discuss important concerns about organ donation.

In closing, please note that persons who choose to NOT donate their organs may attempt be on the safe side and carry an 'opt out' card to help ensure that their organs are not harvested against their will. To prevent the risk of being killed as part of the big business of organ donation, you may also want to carry an opt-out card. Carrying such a card may protect a person from abuses and may actually save their life. Remember that organ donation is big business. Although the above flier contains an 'I Am Against Organ Donation' card, the flier/card is NOT intended to provide legal or medical advice. To best protect your rights, consult a lawyer/doctor for legal/medical advice.

[+ Please Note: The above discussion concerns vital organs. Non-vital organs may be donated with the permission of the donor if this would NOT cause death or disproportionate risk. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "Organ transplants (of non-vital organs, with proper permission of the donor) are in conformity with the moral law if the physical and psychological dangers and risks to the donor are proportionate to the good sought for the recipient."]


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Other Resources:

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Sickness / Illness (Topic Page)

Death (Topic Page)

Ten Commandments (Topic Page)

 

  

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