Religious Perspectives of Donation

Faith and hope play an important role in the donation and transplant process.  From those who await organ and tissue transplants to return them to their lives and families; to registered donors who believe one day they will make a lifesaving difference, to donor families who carry the hope that their loved ones gave life to others, all have faith in something greater than themselves.

The topic of religion often comes up in conversation about donation, as one of the primary myths heard regarding donation surrounds the topic. Along with myths about whether or not a specific religion is “able” to donate or not, comes cultural assumptions about whether or not a family will be willing to donate.  Below is a partial list of the most common religions and their views on donation. For a full list, log-on to www.donatelifemaryland.org.

AME & AME Zion:  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.

Baptist:  Though Baptists generally believe 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. The resolution encourages physicians to request organ donation in appropriate circumstances and to “encourage voluntarism regarding organ donation in the spirit of stewardship, compassion for the needs of others and alleviating suffering.”

Buddhism:  Buddhists believe organ and tissue donation is a matter of individual conscience and place high value on acts of compassion.  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.

Hinduism:  According to the Hindu Temple Society of North America, Hindus are not prohibited by religious law from donating their organs.

Islam:  The religion of Islam believes in the principle of saving human lives.  “The majority of the Muslim scholars belonging to various schools of Islamic law have invoked the principle of priority of saving human life and have permitted the organ transplant as a necessity to procure that noble end.” – Islamic Views on Organ Donation

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

Judaism:  All four branches of Judaism (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist) support and encourage donation.

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.

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About Lauren

Lauren Muskauski is the communications associate at The Living Legacy Foundation. She heads up many community outreach initiatives and projects, with a focus on middle school, high school and college outreach. She also manages The LLF’s and Donate Life Maryland’s presence on social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook. Lauren’s commitment to donation started early when she registered as an organ, eye and tissue donor at the MVA upon receiving her first drivers’ license, but was then reinforced a few years later when her father passed away while waiting for a liver transplant. Now, she continues to be inspired on a daily basis by the generosity of donors and their families, as well as the gratitude exhibited by every recipient she meets.
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