Organ donation a Christian duty


Add organ donation to your list of Christian duties, the Church of England said this week. According to Christian Today, the Church told the House of Lords that organ donation is a "striking" example of the Christian mandate to put others' needs first: "Christians have a mandate to heal. … The Christian tradition … affirms the God-given value of human bodily life."

The Church of England supports an organ donation system that does not pay for organs and allows people to opt out of donation. Greg Rutecki, fellow with the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, told WoW he agreed with the Church and would extend its principle to living donors who give their tissue, marrow, kidneys or livers to the ill.

Rutecki said some fear that organ greed will tempt a doctor to "speed up their dying process." He answered that there are two ethical ways to declare death. When doctors declare someone brain-dead, the person's heart is still pumping and available for donation. When doctors declare a person heart-dead, then the person's kidneys are available for donation. In either case, Rutecki said, the body is dead and the soul has left it.

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Christian ethicist Gilbert Meilaender has expressed reservations, however, asking if organ donation leads to the view that "bodies are simply collections of parts." In an article for The New Atlantis, Meilaender said a human being is not "a mechanism composed of separable and readily alienable parts," but "a unified living whole that is more, much more, than simply the sum of those parts." He fears that an eagerness for organs may "encourage us to think of ourselves as spiritual overlords, free to use the body and its parts as we see fit in the service of good causes."

Rutecki disagreed: "What makes us a person does not reside in one particular type of tissue." Donating an organ is giving someone "the gift of life."


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