Religious Views Regarding Donation & Transplantation | Iowa Donor Network

Religious Views Regarding Donation & Transplantation

A com­mon ques­tion that some­times aris­es when peo­ple are asked to con­sid­er dona­tion of organs and tis­sue is, Will my deci­sion be com­pat­i­ble with my reli­gious beliefs?” Most reli­gions sup­port organ dona­tion and trans­plan­ta­tion. If you have any ques­tions about your religion’s stance on dona­tion, please con­sult your reli­gious leader.

AME & AME Zion (African Methodist Episcopal)

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.

Amish

The Amish will con­sent to trans­plan­ta­tion if they believe it is for the well-being of the trans­plant recip­i­ent. John Hostetler, world-renowned author­i­ty on Amish reli­gion and pro­fes­sor of anthro­pol­o­gy at Tem­ple Uni­ver­si­ty in Philadel­phia, says in his book, Amish Soci­ety, 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, hos­pi­tal­iza­tion, den­tal work, anes­the­sia, blood trans­fu­sions or immunization.”

Assem­blies of God

The Church has no offi­cial pol­i­cy on organ and tis­sue dona­tion. The deci­sion to donate is left up to the indi­vid­ual. Dona­tion is high­ly sup­port­ed by the denomination.

Bap­tist

Though Bap­tists gen­er­al­ly believe that organ and tis­sue dona­tion and trans­plan­ta­tion are ulti­mate­ly mat­ters of per­son­al con­science, the nation’s largest protes­tant denom­i­na­tion, the South­ern Bap­tist Con­ven­tion, adopt­ed a res­o­lu­tion in 1988 encour­ag­ing physi­cians to request organ dona­tion in appro­pri­ate cir­cum­stances and to encour­age vol­un­tarism regard­ing organ dona­tions in the spir­it of stew­ard­ship, com­pas­sion for the needs of oth­ers and alle­vi­at­ing suf­fer­ing.” Oth­er Bap­tist groups have sup­port­ed organ and tis­sue dona­tion as an act of char­i­ty and leave the deci­sion to donate up to the individual.

Brethren

While no offi­cial posi­tion has been tak­en by the Brethren denom­i­na­tions, accord­ing to Pas­tor Mike Smith, a con­sen­sus exists among the Nation­al Fel­low­ship of Grace Brethren that organ and tis­sue dona­tion and trans­plan­ta­tion is a char­i­ta­ble act as long as it does not impede the life or has­ten the death of the donor or does not come from an unborn child.

Bud­dhism

Bud­dhists believe that organ and tis­sue dona­tion is a mat­ter of indi­vid­ual con­science and place high val­ue on acts of com­pas­sion. Rev­erend Gyomay Masao, pres­i­dent and founder of the Bud­dhist Tem­ple of Chica­go says, We hon­or those peo­ple who donate their bod­ies and organs to the advance­ment of med­ical sci­ence and to sav­ing lives.” The impor­tance of let­ting loved ones know your wish­es is stressed.

Catholi­cism

Catholics view organ and tis­sue dona­tion as an act of char­i­ty and love. Trans­plants are moral­ly and eth­i­cal­ly accept­able to the Vat­i­can. Accord­ing to Father Leroy Wick­ows­ki, Direc­tor of the Office of Health Affairs of the Arch­dio­cese of Chica­go, We encour­age dona­tion as an act of char­i­ty. It is some­thing good that can result from tragedy and a way for fam­i­lies to find com­fort by help­ing oth­ers.” Pope Fran­cis has stat­ed, Organ dona­tion is a tes­ti­mo­ny of love for our neighbor.”

Chris­t­ian Church (Dis­ci­ples of Christ)

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 (Dis­ci­ples of Christ) to enroll as organ donors and prayer­ful­ly sup­port those who have received an organ transplant.”

Chris­t­ian Science

The Church of Christ Sci­en­tist does not have a spe­cif­ic posi­tion on organ dona­tion. Accord­ing to the First Church of Christ Sci­en­tist in Boston, Chris­t­ian Sci­en­tists nor­mal­ly rely on spir­i­tu­al, instead of med­ical, means of heal­ing. They are free, how­ev­er, to choose what­ev­er form of med­ical treat­ment they desire, includ­ing a trans­plant. The reli­gion views organ and tis­sue dona­tion an indi­vid­ual decision.

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 organ, blood and tis­sue donors as part of their min­istry to oth­ers in the name of Christ, who gave His life that we may have life in its fullness.”

Greek Ortho­dox

Accord­ing to Rev­erend Dr. Mil­ton Efthimiou, Direc­tor of the Depart­ment of Church and Soci­ety for the Greek Ortho­dox Church of North and South Amer­i­ca, The Greek Ortho­dox Church is not opposed to organ dona­tion as long as the organs and tis­sue in ques­tion are used to bet­ter human life, i.e., for trans­plan­ta­tion or for research that will lead to improve­ments in the treat­ment and pre­ven­tion of disease.”

Gyp­sies

Gyp­sies are a peo­ple of dif­fer­ent eth­nic groups with­out a for­mal­ized reli­gion. They share com­mon folk beliefs and tend to be opposed to organ and tis­sue dona­tion. Their oppo­si­tion is con­nect­ed with their beliefs about the after­life. Tra­di­tion­al belief con­tends that for one year after death the soul retraces its steps. Thus, the body must remain intact because the soul main­tains its phys­i­cal shape.

Hin­duism

Accord­ing to the Hin­du Tem­ple Soci­ety of North Amer­i­ca, Hin­dus are not pro­hib­it­ed by reli­gious law from donat­ing their organs. This act is an individual’s deci­sion. H.L. Trive­di, in Trans­plan­ta­tion Pro­ceed­ings, stat­ed that, Hin­du mythol­o­gy has sto­ries in which the parts of the human body are used for the ben­e­fit of oth­er humans and soci­ety. There is noth­ing in the Hin­du reli­gion indi­cat­ing that parts of humans, dead or alive, can­not be used to alle­vi­ate the suf­fer­ing of oth­er humans.”

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.

Islam

Islam believes in the prin­ci­ple of sav­ing human lives. Accord­ing to A. Sached­i­na in his Trans­plan­ta­tion Pro­ceed­ings (1990) arti­cle, Islam­ic Views on Organ Trans­plan­ta­tion,” The major­i­ty of the Mus­lim schol­ars belong­ing to var­i­ous schools of Islam­ic law has invoked the prin­ci­ple of pri­or­i­ty of sav­ing human life and have per­mit­ted the organ trans­plant as a neces­si­ty to pro­cure that noble end.”

The Fiqh Coun­cil agrees with many indi­vid­ual schol­ars and nation­al and inter­na­tion­al fat­wa coun­cils in con­sid­er­ing organ dona­tion and trans­plan­ta­tion to be Islam­i­cal­ly per­mis­si­ble in prin­ci­ple. All fat­was that have allowed trans­plan­ta­tion have allowed dona­tion as well. Done with a good inten­tion, organ dona­tion may be regard­ed as a reward­ed act of char­i­ty. Click here for more information. 

Jehovah’s Wit­ness­es

Accord­ing to the Watch Tow­er Soci­ety, Jehovah’s Wit­ness­es believe dona­tion is a mat­ter of indi­vid­ual deci­sion. Jehovah’s Wit­ness­es often are assumed to be opposed to dona­tion because of their belief against blood trans­fu­sion. How­ev­er, this mere­ly means that all blood must be removed from the organs and tis­sue before being transplanted.

Judaism

All four branch­es of Judaism (Ortho­dox, Con­ser­v­a­tive, Reform and Recon­struc­tion­al­ist) sup­port and encour­age dona­tion. Accord­ing to Ortho­dox Rab­bi Moses Tendler, Chair­man of the Biol­o­gy Depart­ment of Yeshi­va Uni­ver­si­ty in New York City and Chair­man of the Bioethics Com­mis­sion of the Rab­bini­cal Coun­cil of Amer­i­ca, 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 nev­er knows who the ben­e­fi­cia­ry will be. The basic prin­ci­ple of Jew­ish ethics — the infi­nite worth of the human being’ — also includes dona­tion of corneas, since eye­sight restora­tion is con­sid­ered a life-sav­ing oper­a­tion.” In 1991, the Rab­bini­cal Coun­cil of Amer­i­ca (Ortho­dox) approved organ dona­tion as per­mis­si­ble, and even required, from brain-dead patients. The Reform move­ment looks upon the trans­plant pro­gram favor­ably and Rab­bi Richard Address, Direc­tor of the Union of Amer­i­can Hebrew Con­gre­ga­tions Bio-Ethics Com­mit­tee and Com­mit­tee on Old­er Adults, states that Juda­ic Response mate­ri­als pro­vide a pos­i­tive approach and by and large the North Amer­i­can Reform Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty approves of transplantation.”

Luther­an

In 1984, the Luther­an Church in Amer­i­ca passed a res­o­lu­tion 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 organs and to make any nec­es­sary fam­i­ly and legal arrange­ments, includ­ing the use of a signed donor card.

Men­non­ite

Men­non­ites have no for­mal posi­tion on dona­tion, but they are not opposed to it. They believe the deci­sion to donate is up to the indi­vid­ual or his or her family.

Mora­vian

The Mora­vian Church has made no state­ment address­ing organ and tis­sue dona­tion or trans­plan­ta­tion. 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.” There­fore, it is a mat­ter of indi­vid­ual choice.

Mor­mon (Church of Jesus Christ of Lat­ter-Day Saints)

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 not oppose donation.

Pen­te­costal

Pen­te­costals believe that the deci­sion to donate should be left up to the individual.

Pres­by­ter­ian

Pres­by­te­ri­ans encour­age and sup­port dona­tion. They respect a person’s right to make deci­sions about his or her own body.

Sev­enth-Day Adventist

Dona­tion and trans­plan­ta­tion are strong­ly encour­aged by Sev­enth-Day Adven­tists. They have many trans­plant hos­pi­tals, includ­ing Loma Lin­da in Cal­i­for­nia. Loma Lin­da spe­cial­izes in pedi­atric heart transplantation.

Shin­to

In Shin­to, the dead body is con­sid­ered to be impure and dan­ger­ous and, thus, quite pow­er­ful. In folk belief con­text, injur­ing a dead body is a seri­ous crime.…,” accord­ing to E. Nami­hi­ra in his arti­cle, Shin­to Con­cept Con­cern­ing the Dead Human Body. To this day it is dif­fi­cult to obtain con­sent from bereaved fam­i­lies for organ dona­tion or dis­sec­tion for med­ical edu­ca­tion or patho­log­i­cal anato­my … (because) the Japan­ese regard them all in (the) sense of injur­ing a dead body.” Fam­i­lies often are con­cerned that they not injure the itai, the rela­tion­ship between the dead per­son and the bereaved people.

Soci­ety of Friends (Quak­ers)

Organ and tis­sue dona­tion is believed to be an indi­vid­ual deci­sion. The Soci­ety of Friends does not have an offi­cial posi­tion on donation.

Uni­tar­i­an Universalist

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

Unit­ed Church of Christ

Rev­erend Jay Lit­ner, Direc­tor, Wash­ing­ton Office of the Unit­ed Church of Christ Office for Church in Soci­ety, states, Unit­ed Church of Christ peo­ple, church­es and agen­cies are extreme­ly and over­whelm­ing­ly sup­port­ive of organ shar­ing. The Gen­er­al Syn­od speaks on more con­tro­ver­sial issues, and there is no con­tro­ver­sy about organ shar­ing, just as there is no con­tro­ver­sy about blood dona­tion in the denom­i­na­tion. While the Gen­er­al Syn­od has nev­er spo­ken about blood dona­tion, blood dona­tion rooms have been set up at sev­er­al Gen­er­al Syn­ods. Sim­i­lar­ly, any orga­nized effort to get the Gen­er­al Syn­od del­e­gates or indi­vid­ual church­es to sign organ dona­tion cards would meet with gen­er­al­ly pos­i­tive responses.”

Unit­ed Methodist

The Unit­ed Methodist Church issued a pol­i­cy state­ment on organ and tis­sue dona­tion. In it, the Church states 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 by sign­ing and car­ry­ing cards or driver’s licens­es, attest­ing to their com­mit­ment of such organs upon their death, to those in need, as a part of their min­istry to oth­ers in the name of Christ, who gave his life that we might have life in its full­ness.” A 1992 res­o­lu­tion states, Dona­tion is to be encour­aged, assum­ing appro­pri­ate safe­guards against has­ten­ing death and deter­mi­na­tion of death 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.”

Our Vision:

All are inspired to donate life.