Organ and Tissue Donation by Religious Affiliation Part 3

Islam

The Modern Religious council initially rejected organ donation by followers of Islam in 1983, but has reversed its position is provided that the donor’s consent is in writing in advance. The religion of Islam believes in the principle of saving human lives. According to A.Sachedina in his Transplantation Proceedings article, “Islamic Views on Organ Transplantation” “…the majority of the Muslims 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 produce that noble end.”

Judaism

All four branches of Judaism (orthodox, conservative, reform, and re-constructionist) support and encourage donation. According to Orthodox Rabbi Moses Tendler, chairman of the Biology Department of the Yeshiva University in New York City and chairman of the Bioethics Commission of the Rabbinical Council f America, “If one is in the position to donate an organ to save another life, it’s obligatory to do so, even if the door 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 donations as permissible, and even required, from brain-dead patients. Also, in Orthodox Judaism, where any part of the body is separated from the corpus, it requires burial. However, where an organ is to be transplanted to save the life of a patient or improve his health, then it is permitted.

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 of Older Adults, states that “Judaic Response materials provide a positive approach and by the large North American Jewish community approves of transplantation.” Judaism teaches that saving a human life takes precedence over maintaining the sanctity of human body.

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 fro bereaved families for organ donation or dissection for medical education or pathological anatomy . . .the Japanese regard them all in the sense of injuring a dead body.” Families are often concerned that they do not injure the itai, the relationship between the dead person and the bereaved people.

United Methodist

The United Methodist Church issued a policy statement regarding organ and tissue donation. In it, they state 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.

Pentecostal

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

Seventh Day Adventist

Donation and transplantation are strongly encourage by Seventh-day Adventist. They have many transplant hospitals, including Loma Linda in California. Loma Linda specializes in pediatric hearth transplantation. The individual and family have the right to receive or to donate those organs which will restore any of the senses or will prolong the life profitably.

United Church of Christ

Reverend Jay Lintner, 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 has never spoken to this issue because, in general, the 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.”