The Church has no objection in general terms to organ donation, but there are clear guidelines. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:
"2296 Organ transplants are in conformity with the moral law if the physical and psychological dangers and risks to the donor are proportionate to the good sought for the recipient. Organ donation after death is a noble and meritorious act and is to be encouraged as an expression of generous solidarity. It is not morally acceptable if the donor or his proxy has not given explicit consent. Moreover, it is not morally admissible to bring about the disabling mutilation or death of a human being, even in order to delay the death of other persons."
The Church emphasises that vital organs may be donated for transplant only after the donor's death. Families need an assurance that death has already occurred and if they are in any doubt about this, as can happen when life support systems are still in place, the hospital authorities should make sure that the medical facts are clearly explained.
Donor families must also be supported at the time of the death of their loved one. They are grieving and must deal with what may be an unexpected and traumatic death, while coming to terms with consenting to an organ donation.
Crossroads photo by Vladislov Babienko on Unsplash
1 August 2021