Catholic Position on Organ Donation
Is Organ Donation Allowed?
Actual Death Vs. 'Brain Death'
Vital Organs | Non-Vital Organs
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Question / Issue:
"What is the
Church's stance on donating organs?"
Answer / Resources:
[click link(s) below, as applicable]
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)
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.
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
intended to provide legal or medical advice. To best protect your rights,
consult a lawyer/doctor for legal/medical advice.
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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