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Brain death coverage in Catholic media

Catholic church leaders continue to support organ donation and speak out against the sensationalizing of brain death testing.

Recently, there has been considerable coverage in Catholic media about brain death. While brain death is only declared under strict, comprehensive medical standards, a small group of individuals who identify as Catholic, has concerns about the process.

Countering these voices are Catholic leaders, including the chair of the U.S. Bishops Subcommittee on Healthcare Issues, who wrote a response stating these groups do not represent official Catholic teaching and the Catholic Church is supportive of organ donation. They go on to state that this group’s case against the use of neurological criteria has not been accepted by either the medical community or as an official stance of the Catholic Church. They wrote, “promoting such false hope, by making brain death the latest battlefront in the ongoing culture wars, places an undue burden on families at a time of immense grief.”  

The Catholic church’s official stance still supports organ donation and the definition of brain death. The concern being raised is held by a small group of individuals calling for Catholics to remove themselves from donor registries and refuse to be organ donors. The current and past twopopes have spoken out in support of organ donation.

Brain death testing and organ donation

Brain death is a legal and medical determination made by clinicians who are separate from the donation process. The federally designated organizations who save lives by coordinating organ donation (such as LifeSource) are not involved in any brain death assessments. The generous and selfless act of organ donation is only a possibility once brain death is declared.

Donation information for families

If you have family or a loved one in the hospital and are discussing the potential to donate and save lives, click here.

Additional Resources

America – The danger of turning ‘brain death’ and organ donation into culture war issues

Bishop Michael Olsen, chair of the U.S. Bishops Subcommittee on Healthcare Issues – What every Catholic should know about brain death

What is Brain Death?

Organ Donation and Religion