Religion and Organ Donation
All major religions in the U.S. support organ and tissue donation. Have you talked to your religious leader about donation?
Religion and organ donation go hand-in-hand for many organ transplant recipients and donor families. All major religions in the U.S. support organ donation as the ultimate act of charity and self-sacrifice.
If you have any questions about your religion’s viewpoint on organ and tissue donation, please speak to your clergyperson.
National Donor Sabbath
National Donor Sabbath, observed annually in November, seeks to educate faith-based communities about the need for organ, eye and tissue donors. This national initiative partners with faith leaders, houses of worship, and faith-based organizations to educate its congregations about the critical need for donors and to dispel myths and discuss religious beliefs about the donation process. It’s important to note: All major religions in the United States support organ, eye and tissue donation as an unselfish act of charity. Learn more on how you can get involved here!
Highlights on religious perspectives:
Organ and tissue donation is viewed as an act of neighborly love and charity. Members are encouraged to support donation as a way of helping others.
The Amish may consent to transplantation if they know it is for the health and welfare of the transplant recipient. They would be reluctant to donate their organs if the transplant outcome is uncertain.
Assembly of God
The Church leaves the decision to donate up to the individual. A decision to donate organs and tissues is supported by the religion.
The Church leaves the decision up to the individual and donation is supported as an act of charity.
Buddhists place high value on acts of compassion and believe that organ and tissue donation is a matter of individual conscience. The importance of letting loved ones know your wishes is stressed.
Catholics view organ and tissue donation as an act of charity, love and self-sacrifice. Organ and tissue donation is morally and ethically acceptable.
Pope Francis has said, “Organ donation is a testimony of love for our neighbor.”
Christian Scientists normally rely on spiritual means of healing instead of medical. They are free, however, to choose whatever form of medical treatment they desire, including transplant.
The Episcopal Church recognizes the life-enhancing benefits of organ, blood and tissue donation. The church encourages members to become donors so that others may live.
The Church supports organ and tissue donation as a way to better human life, and for research that can lead to improvements in the treatment and prevention of disease.
Hindus believe the soul is immortal and is reborn in new physical forms. Organ and tissue donation is viewed as a personal decision and is not prohibited by religious law.
Independent Conservative Evangelical
Each Evangelical church is autonomous and leaves the decision to donate to the individual.
Islam believes in the principle of saving human lives and permits organ donation as a means to attain a noble end to one’s life. The religion of Islam preaches that saving one life also saves the world.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe donation is a matter of individual decision. Jehovah’s Witnesses are often assumed to be against donation because of their opposition to blood transfusion. However, this merely means that all blood must be removed from organs and tissues before being transplanted.
All four branches of Judaism support donation. According to Rabbi Moses Tendler, a noted professor on Jewish Medical Ethics, “If one is in a position to donate an organ to save another’s life, it’s obligatory to do so, even if the donor never knows who the beneficiary will be.”
Lutherans believe organ and tissue donation contributes to the well-being of humanity. They call on “members to consider donating and to make any necessary family and legal arrangements.”
Mennonites believe the decision to donate is up to the individual and his or her family.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints believes the donation of organs and tissues is a selfless act that often results in great benefit to individuals with medical conditions. They believe the decision to donate is up the individual or the deceased member’s family.
Presbyterians encourage and endorse donation, which is seen as an individual’s right to make decisions regarding his or her own body.
The Quakers have no official position on organ and tissue donation and believe it is an individual decision.
Donation and transplantation are strongly encouraged. Seventh Day Adventists have many transplant hospitals, including Loma Linda in California, which specializes in pediatric heart transplants.
Organ and tissue donation is widely supported by Unitarian Universalists, who see it as an act of love and selfless giving.
The Church recognizes the life-giving benefits of organ and tissue donation. A 1992 resolution of the United Methodist Church states, “Donation is to be encouraged, assuming appropriate safeguards (are put into place) against hastening death and (that the) determination of death (is declared) 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.”