I was happy to learn via this blog post today that the current leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, is a registered organ donor, yea! He reportedly signed up as one several years ago, when he was a cardinal. It’s largely a gesture, really, because the Pope’s body will be buried intact, just like the Popes before him. But it’s a gesture that I, for one, honor and welcome!
The full post was about the Catholic Church’s official position on organ transplantation, which is overall a favorable one, except for some tension among some Catholic leaders on the tricky issue of brain death. This got me thinking about how other religions view the topic of organ transplantation. If you, like me, are thinking, “gee, how could I quickly understand the positions of dozens of different religions on this topic, without having to commit to any strenuous research?” then, voila! I have the answer for you! The amazing online organ transplantation documentary called “The Gift of Lifetime” has published a brief digest that summarizes the position of several religions — Amish, Shinto, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Greek Orthodox, Baptist and more.
I’ve done my readers a disservice by not mentioning the Gift of a LIfetime site sooner. It’s one of my favorite Web sites on the topic of organ transplantation, hands down, and had a permanent spot on my featured links list on my old Chopped Liver blog. I’m adding it now to the permalinks on this site too, to the right. It deserves a full blog post of its own to cover everything there, but two stand-out features I’ll mention right away are “The Interactive Body” link that walks you through an animated explanation of transplantable body parts, and the “Transplant Journey” centerpiece, a lovely motif of stories written by a group of journalists about real people as they wait for the gift of life or cope with the loss of loved ones who become donors.
Meanwhile, while it rains it pours… my Google alert on the topic of “organ donation” pointed me to this post from a Jewish woman who lost a daughter, and subsequently published a blog rich with information on bereavement in the Jewish tradition. She writes the following, which, as a disclaimer, I am in no position to confirm as accurate or deny as inaccurrate:
Being an organ donor is permitted according to all Jewish denominations once death has been clearly established, provided that instructions have been left in a written living will. Orthodox and Haredi Jews consult their rabbis before making the final choice and decision. In Israel many traditional Jews have not allowed the harvesting of deceased relatives’ organs in the mistaken belief that this is forbidden to Jews. Jewish law does not, however, permit donation of organs that are vital for survival from a donor who is in a near-dead state but not yet declared dead.
If any of you have further knowledge about religious points of view about organ donation, I would love to learn from you! Drop a comment or send an email.