What do major religions think about organ donation and transplantation? 

Most of the religions around us have been in favor of organ donation for therapeutic purposes.

The Catholic Church, for example, has expressed clearly and forcefully that organ donation is the supreme act of charity, generosity and love that one person can do for another in this life. The last Popes in different encyclicals and other documents encourage all Catholics to express themselves in life in favor of donation. Bishops and priests preach the need for organ donation to save lives or avoid suffering for people with serious health problems.

 

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Reformed Christian churches (Adventists, Anglicans, Evangelicals, Methodists, etc.) generally advocate that each person should conscientiously decide on the decision to be a donor, thus not posing problems with donation and transplants.

Jehovah’s Witnesses, who express their opposition to blood transfusions, do not, on the contrary, have any opposition to the donation of their own organs or to receive transplants, provided that they are assured that they will not be transfused during the operation.

The Jewish religion is also favorable to organ donation. You can even read in the Talmud “Who Saves a Life Saves the World,” and their religious hierarchies interpret that organ donation for transplantation is the best attitude to help others save their lives.

Nor does the Muslim religion oppose donation, and this has been expressed in various documents issued by its religious authorities. However, the absence of a religious authority that unites doctrines makes, in reality, uncommon the donation of people of Muslim religion. Usually, religious problems are associated with social problems and certain customs, with post-death cults that make it difficult to facilitate donation. Countries with an Islamic religion like Turkey even have specific legislation on brain death and donations are relatively frequent. In others such as Pakistan, of the same religion, the donation of bodies of deceased considered it unacceptable.

Other minority religions in our midst, such as Buddhism and Shintoism, do not favor organ donation because, according to their beliefs, the death process happens gradually, completing itself over three days after clinical death. During this time, the body of the deceased Buddhist should not be manipulated as this would interfere with future reincarnations.

What actions will be useful to promote an adequate social awareness in organ donation? [return]

The population must know that in a society with a majority of people favorable to the donation would mean a benefit for the whole population (healthy and sick). No one is safe that at some point in life, suddenly, some kind of illness or dysfunction that requires a treatment with transplants arises. Only if we live in a society massively aware of the organ donation can it be possible that the transplant can be carried out without delay and, therefore, with maximum chances of success.

To achieve this awareness, it is necessary to provide the population with adequate and periodic information to assess donation and transplantation as essential actions to promote health in our social environment.

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