Organ Donation

Do you have an organ donation sticker on your driver’s license? I do not, but I have never really been opposed to someone doing such a thing. This past week, I have had to think more about the issue after reading the following excerpts from books I have read for classes.


“As part of or alongside a Living Will, more and more people are donating their organs after death to be used to benefit the living. This practice may well be encouraged by the pastor” (Norbert H. Mueller and George Kraus eds. Pastoral Theology [St. Louis: Concordia, 1990], 146).


“The body, as the place of personal presence, has its own integrity, which ought to be respected. Indeed, because we are regarded as stewards rather than owners of our bodily life, the Roman Catholic and Jewish traditions generally forbade self-mutilation. These traditions have become willing to approve the self-giving of organs or tissues for transplantation as long as the donation will not cause grave harm to the donor’s bodily life….In general, therefore, we may regard donation of a kidney or of bone marrow as significantly different from donation of heart, lung, or liver…Yet, a living donor’s gift even of tissue or a paired organ (such as a kidney) should not simply be affirmed as if it were morally uncomplicated. Doctors have in the past been hesitant to transplant kidneys from living, unrelated donors, and it is good that they should be. We should want them to be reluctant to subject a healthy person to the risks of a major operation and the loss of one kidney even if that person is eager to make this bodily gift. It is true, of course, that we ought always be ready to risk harm to ourselves for the sake of others. But it is one thing to aim at my neighbor’s good, knowing that in so doing I may be harmed; it is another to aim at my own harm in order to do good to my neighbor. Thus, even when we approve donation (of, for example, a kidney) from a living donor, we should retain a lively sense of the moral complexity of such an act” (Gilbert Meilaender, Bioethics: A Primer for Christians [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2005], 88-89).

So what do you think?