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Organ Donation and Religion

What religions prohibit organ donation? None.

All major religions in the United States support donation and consider it a generous act of caring.

In “A Matter of Faith,” produced by Gift of Life Michigan, faith leaders from many major religions talk about what ties all people together, and how we can support our neighbors, no matter what our faiths are.

Over 100,000 men, women and children are on the national organ transplant wait list. This means the simple of act of saying “yes” and registering to help others through donation after death is a selfless act of compassion and generosity.

LifeSource encourages anyone with questions about their faith’s view of donation to speak with their faith leader for guidance. Below is a summary of some theological perspectives on the donation of tissue and organs after death.

AME & AME ZION (African Methodist Episcopal)

The AME Church encourages its members to consider organ donation to help those in need and to promote the common good. The church also encourages its members to discuss their decision about organ donation with their family and loved ones, and to make their wishes known through an advance directive or living will.

The AME Church’s support for organ donation is consistent with its broader mission of social justice and service to the community. The church believes that organ donation is a way to show compassion and care for others and to contribute to the health and well-being of society as a whole.


The Amish are a traditionalist Christian group with varying beliefs and practices regarding organ donation. Some Amish communities may have reservations or objections to organ donation, while others may be open to it.

Generally, the Amish believe in the sanctity of the body and the importance of caring for it. They may also view organ donation as a way to help others in need, which is consistent with their values of community and service.

However, because of their connection to an agrarian lifestyle that values self-sufficiency and traditional practices, some may have concerns about modern medical interventions like organ donation. Additionally, some Amish may be hesitant to participate in organ donation programs due to concerns about the potential for commercialization or exploitation of the body.

Ultimately, whether or not an Amish individual or community supports organ donation will depend on their specific beliefs and values.

John Hostetler, a world-renowned authority on the Amish religion, wrote in his book, Amish Society, “The Amish believe that since God created the human body, it is God who heals. However, nothing in the Amish understanding of the Bible forbids them from using modern medical services, including surgery, hospitalization, dental work, anesthesia, blood transfusions, or immunization.”

Assembly of God

The answer to the question of organ donation, according to the General Council of the Assemblies of God, is rooted in one’s understanding of the doctrine of resurrection, Article 13, “The Blessed Hope,” in the council’s Statement of Fundamental Truths. The council’s response is as follows (Office of Public Relations, General Council of the Assemblies of God, November 2, 2005):

The apostle Paul makes it very clear that the mortal bodies we now have cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:35-58; 2 Corinthians 5:1-10). The Bible also makes it clear that to be absent from this body is to be at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-10).

When we go to be with the Lord to await the rapture and resurrection of those left alive until the coming of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:15), our bodies return to dust (Genesis 2:7, 3:19; 1 Corinthians 15:45-50). We have no more need of the fallen mortal bodies we now bear.

Donating our organs may give the gift of life to someone else long after we have gone home to be with the Lord. If the recipient is a Christian, the resource of the organ has the potential to facilitate continued Christian service and the living witness of a fellow believer here on earth. If the recipient is not a Christian, it may allow the individual additional time and opportunity to accept Christ. A fascinating possibility is to imagine the impact if Christian donors were to stipulate that their donated organs be accompanied by a handwritten letter telling of the donor’s life, testimony, and relationship with Christ.

The alternative is to keep our organs even in death. This also is a valid choice for the Christian. This was the practice for all until recent years when transplant procedures have proven viable. Ultimately, the question comes down to whether or not we view it right for our organs to be candidates for resource.

The realization that organ donations save lives and provide for a continuing witness of God’s love and grace does not mean that failure to donate organs would be sinful. All of us should seek God’s will for our choices in this matter. It should be discussed fully with one’s entire family.

Many considering organ donation will have theological concerns and questions. If we donate our organs to others, will that have any effect on our resurrection? But we must also ask, “Does God need any given molecule or atom from our bodies in order to resurrect us to life?” The apostle Paul said, “No.” That which is perishable does not inherit the imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:49-50). The resurrection brings a new spiritual body.


The Bahá’í Faith supports organ donation as an act of charity and as a means of promoting the well-being of humanity. The faith emphasizes the importance of service to others and encourages its followers to contribute to the betterment of society in any way they can.

According to the Bahá’í teachings, the human body is a sacred trust that should be treated with respect and dignity. However, the faith also recognizes the value of medical science and technology in saving lives and alleviating suffering. As such, organ donation is seen as a way to honor the sacredness of the body while also fulfilling the obligation to serve others.

There is no prohibition in the Bahá’í Faith on organ donation. It is a matter left to the individual conscience (Office of Public Information, Bahá’í International Community, November 10, 2005). However, the faith encourages consulting with their families and medical professionals to make an informed decision about organ donation.


In general, Buddhism supports organ donation as an act of compassion and generosity that can benefit others. However, the specific views and practices related to organ donation may vary among different Buddhist traditions and individual practitioners. The Rev. Gyomay Masao, president and founder of the Buddhist Temple of Chicago, said, “We honor those people who donate their bodies and organs to the advancement of medical science and to saving lives.” The importance of letting loved ones know your wishes is stressed.

There are no injunctions in Buddhism for or against organ donation. The death process of an individual is viewed as a very important time that should be treated with the greatest care and respect. In some traditions, the moment of death is defined according to criteria which differ from those of modern Western medicine, and there are differing views as to the acceptability of organ transplantation. The needs and wishes of the dying person must not be compromised by the wish to save a life. Each decision will depend on individual circumstances.

Central to Buddhism is a wish to relieve suffering and there may be circumstances where organ donation may be seen as an act of generosity. Where it is truly the wish of the dying person, it would be seen in that light. If there is doubt as to the teachings within the particular tradition to which a person belongs, expert guidance should be sought from a senior teacher within the tradition concerned. When he discovered a monk sick and uncared for, the Buddha said to the other monks, “Whoever would care for me, let him care for those who are sick.”

Church of the Brethren

The Church of the Brethren does not have any specific guidelines or requirements regarding organ donation, as it is considered a personal decision. However, the church does encourage its members to make an informed decision about organ donation and to discuss their wishes with their family and loved ones.

The church’s support for organ donation is consistent with its broader mission of promoting social justice and service to others. The church emphasizes the importance of caring for the needs of the whole person, including physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, and organ donation can be seen as a way to meet these needs.

The Church of the Brethren commits itself and urges its congregations, institutions, and members to:

  • Inform and educate themselves by taking advantage of resources within their region as to organ and tissue donation.
  • Support and encourage individuals to be in discussion with clergy and family as to their wishes regarding the use of their organs and/or tissues for transplantation upon death.
  • Encourage and support individuals to include within their advance medical directives instructions as to their wishes for organ and tissue donation. This may include the signing and carrying of a Universal Organ Donor Card.
  • Support those living donors who, with prayerful consideration, make an organ or tissue gift, provided that such a gift does not deprive the donor of life itself nor the functional integrity of his or her body.
  • Encourage our clergy to prepare themselves to respond to the special needs of family and friends at the time of organ and tissue procurement.


Roman Catholics view organ and tissue donation as an act of charity and love, as reported in the Catholic publication Origins in 1994.

Transplants are morally and ethically acceptable to the Vatican. According to Father Leroy Wickowski, Director of the Office of Health Affairs of the Archdiocese of Chicago, “We encourage donation as an act of charity. It is something good that can result from tragedy and a way for families to find comfort by helping others.” Pope John Paul II has stated, “The Catholic Church would promote the fact that there is a need for organ donors and that Christians should accept this as a ‘challenge to their generosity and fraternal love’ so long as ethical principles are followed.”

health care institutions should encourage and provide the means whereby those who wish to do so may arrange for the donation of the organs and bodily tissues for the ethically legitimate purposes, so that they may be used for donation and research after death. The following is taken from the New York Organ Donor Network:6 In 1956, Pope Pius XII declared that: “A person may will to dispose of his body and to destine it to ends that are useful, morally irreproachable and even noble, among them the desire to aid the sick and suffering….This decision should not be condemned but positively justified.”

In August 2000, Pope John Paul II told attendees at the International Congress on Transplants in Rome: “Transplants are a great step forward in science’s service of man, and not a few people today owe their lives to an organ transplant. Increasingly, the technique of transplants has proven to be a valid means of attaining the primary goal of all medicine—the service of human life….There is a need to instill in people’s hearts, especially in the hearts of the young, a genuine and deep appreciation of the need for brotherly love, a love that can find expression in the decision to become an organ donor.”

In the Summer/Fall 2001 issue of On the Beat, a publication of the New York Organ Donor Network, His Eminence Edward Cardinal Egan, Archbishop of New York, wrote that, in thinking about the glorious gift of life God has given each of us, one of the greatest ways an individual can honor that gift is being an organ donor.

In his encyclical letter, Evangelium Vitae (On the Value and Inviolability of Human Life), His Holiness Pope John Paul II speaks of society’s fascination with a “culture of death.” He calls on Catholics and people of good faith everywhere to move from that culture towards a celebration and reflection of the glory of God in a “culture of life. When asked to share my thoughts on the importance of organ donation for this publication, it was Evangelium Vitae that immediately came to mind. In thinking about the glorious gift of life God has given each of us, it would seem that one of the greatest ways an individual can honor that gift is by making a conscious decision to be an organ donor—a decision that enables another’s life to continue—and in a very real and tangible way promotes ‘a culture of life. ‘”

Organ donation is, as His Holiness has stated, “a genuine act of love.” The commitment of one person to give the gift of life to another person mirrors an essential foundation upon which the teachings of Christ and the theology of our Church are based. As Saint John tells us, “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) By knowingly choosing the donations of one’s bodily organs, one is acting as Christ would act—giving life to humanity.

The Catholic Church views organ donation as an act of charity. The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, a set of principles that guide the healing mission of the Church, clearly explains the permissibility of organ donations. In Directive No. 30, we read: “The transplantation of organs from living donors is morally permissible when such a donation will not sacrifice or seriously impair any essential bodily function and the anticipated benefit to the recipient is proportionate to the harm to the donor.” Similarly, Directives No. 63-66 treat organ donation as follows: Directive No. 63: “Catholic health care institutions should encourage and provide the means whereby those who wish to do so may arrange for the donation of their organs and bodily tissue, for ethically legitimate purposes, so that they may be used for donation and research after death.” Directive No. 64: “Such organs should not be removed until it has been medically determined that the patient has died. In order to prevent any conflict of interest, the physician who determines death should not be a member of the transplant team.”

The donation of organs in a morally acceptable manner, at the end of life, offers the gifts of health and life to those who are most vulnerable and who are at times without hope. It is one of the many pro-life positions an individual can choose in order to foster a culture that values life in our world.

As to what criteria constitute a “morally acceptable manner,” it is essential that organ transplantation occur in the context of love and respect for the dignity of the human person. There are, of course, parameters in determining when and how organs should be donated. It is the Church’s position that transplanted organs never be offered for sale. They are to be given as a gift of love. Any procedure that commercializes or considers organs as items for exchange or trade is morally unacceptable. The decision as to who should have priority in regards to organ transplantation must be based solely on medical factors and not on such considerations as age, sex, religion, social standing or other similar standards.

In addition, it is of the utmost importance that informed consent by the donor and/or donor’s legitimate representatives be had and that vital organs, those that occur singly in the body, are removed only after certain death (the complete and irreversible cessation of all brain activity) has occurred.

As Pope John Paul II observes in Evangelium Vitae, “There is an everyday heroism, made up of gestures and sharing, big or small, which build up an authentic culture of life. A particularly praiseworthy example of such gestures is the donation of organs in a morally acceptable manner.”

It is for the betterment of humanity, for the love of one’s fellow human beings, that organ donation is undertaken. One of the most powerful ways for individuals to demonstrate love for their neighbor is by making an informed decision to be an organ donor.


There is definite evidence for Christian support of organ donation.

The Lord demonstrated with his own life how, even in sorrow, love enables us to embrace the needs of others. We can choose to donate our organs to save the lives of many people. The decision to donate at the end of life is the beginning of healing for many others. Healing and saving life is a great gift. Jesus sent his 12 disciples out with the imperative to heal disease and illness: “Heal the sick…freely ye have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8)

It’s important to note that organ donation is a personal decision and that Christians may have different perspectives on the matter.

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

The Christian Church encourages organ and tissue donation, stating that individuals were created for God’s glory and for sharing of God’s love. A 1985 resolution, adopted by the general assembly, encourages “members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to enroll as organ donors and prayerfully support those who have received an organ transplant.”

Christian Science

The Church of Christ, Scientist does not have a specific position regarding organ donation. According to the First Church of Christ Scientist in Boston, Christian Scientists normally rely on spiritual instead of medical means of healing. They are free, however, to choose whatever form of medical treatment they desire, including a transplant. The question of organ and tissue donation is an individual decision.

Church of the Nazarene

The Church of the Nazarene is a Christian denomination that emphasizes the importance of compassion and service to others. As such, many members of the Church of the Nazarene see organ donation as a way to live out these values by helping those in need. The Church of the Nazarene encourages members who do not object personally to support donor and recipient anatomical gifts through living wills and trusts. Further, the Church appeals for morally and ethically fair distribution of organs to those qualified to receive them (Manual, Church of the Nazarene, 1997-2001, paragraph 904.2).


The 70th General Convention of the Episcopal Church recommends and urges “all members of this Church to consider seriously the opportunity to donate organs after death that others may live, and that such decision be clearly stated to family, friends, church and attorney.”

Evangelical Covenant Church

The Evangelical Covenant Church supports organ donation as an act of love and compassion for others. The Evangelical Covenant Church is a Christian denomination that emphasizes the importance of service and social justice, and many members of the church see organ donation as a way to serve others and promote the common good.

While the Evangelical Covenant Church does not have an official position on organ donation, it encourages its members to consider becoming organ donors and to make their wishes known to their families. The church also supports medical research and the development of new treatments and cures for diseases.

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:

  • Regards the donation of deceased donor organs as an appropriate means of contributing to the health and well-being of the human family.
  • Recognizes that the donation of renewable tissue (e.g., bone marrow) and live organs (e.g. kidney) can be an expression of sacrificial love for a neighbor in need.
  • Encourages its members to consider the possibility of organ donation and to communicate their wishes to family members, physicians and health care institutions.
  • Encourages those willing to donate to make the necessary familial and legal arrangements including the use of a signed donor card.
  • Calls upon its pastors to acquaint themselves with the ethical and legal issues and clinical procedures involved in order that they may counsel persons and families considering the possibility of donation.
  • Urges its pastors, congregations, synods, agencies and institutions to sponsor educational programs on organ donation.
  • Calls upon government to establish public policies which will encourage voluntary donations, discourage coercive donation, assure the efficient, equitable distribution of human organs and tissues for transplants, and disallow both the sale and purchase of human organs.

Greek Orthodox

The Rev. Stanley S. Harakas, former professor of ethics at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, wrote the following about donation: “In the case of organ transplants, the crucial ethical considerations are two-fold; the potential harm inflicted upon the donor and the need of the recipient. Historically, the Orthodox Church has not objected to similar, though not identical, procedures, such as blood transfusions and skin grafts. In both cases, no radical threat to the life of the donor is perceived, and the lifesaving consequences for the recipient are substantial. Similar considerations affect the Orthodox Christian judgment of organ transplants. In no case should a person ignore or make light of the ethical implications of organ donation. Donating an organ whose loss will impair or threaten the life of the potential donor is never required and is never a moral obligation of any person. If the condition of health and the physical well-being of the donor permits, some transplants are not objectionable. Kidney transplants are a case in point. A healthy person may consent to donate a kidney knowing that his or her health is not thereby impaired.

The recipient of an organ transplant should be in otherwise good health, with the expectation of restoring to normal living in order to warrant the risk to the donor.”

In general, the Greek Orthodox Church views the human body as a temple of the Holy Spirit and believes that it should be treated with respect and dignity, even after death. However, the church also recognizes that the act of organ donation can help to save lives and improve the health of others.

Gypsies (Roma)

Gypsies are a people of different ethnic groups without a formalized religion. They share common folk beliefs and tend to be opposed to organ donation. Their opposition is connected with their beliefs about the afterlife. Traditional belief contends that for 1 year after death the soul retraces its steps. Thus, the body must remain intact because the soul maintains its physical shape.


According to the Hindu Temple Society of North America, Hindus are not prohibited by religious law from donating their organs. This act is an individual’s decision.

H. L. Trivedi, in Transplantation Proceedings, stated that “Hindu mythology has stories in which the parts of the human body are used for the benefit of other humans and society. There is nothing in the Hindu religion indicating that parts of humans, dead or alive, cannot be used to alleviate the suffering of other humans.”

The Swamis were universal in their approval of organ donation. They did not accept the concept sometimes heard in India that if one donated [his or her] eyes in this life, they would be blind in the next. Shri Mahant Krishan Nath Ji, based in Haryana, explained, “If someone donates an organ willingly, then there is nothing wrong in that. And it is wrong to say that if you donate eyes in this birth, that in your next birth you would be born without eyes. We have the story of Baba Sheel Nath of Nath Sampradaya who transferred the sight of one of his eyes to that of a blind lady by his yogic powers. So our Nath Sampradaya has had such realized saints who even made people immortal. To them, eye donation was a very small thing.”

Another source reports: “Hindu methodology contains traditions in which human body parts were used for the benefit of other humans and society. There is nothing in the Hindu religion which would prevent living or cadaveric donation to alleviate suffering.”

There are many references that support the concept of organ donation in Hindu scriptures. These include the following:

Daan is the original word in Sanskrit for donation meaning selfless giving. In the list of the 10 Niyamas (virtuous acts) Daan comes third.

Life after death is a strong belief of Hindus and is an ongoing process of rebirth. The law of Karma decides which way the soul will go in the next life. The Bhagavad Gita describes the mortal body and the immortal soul in a simple way like the relationship of clothes to a body:

“vasamsi jirnani yatha vihaya navani grhnati naro ‘parani tatha sarirani vihaya jirnany anyani samyati navandi dehi.” (“As a person puts on new garments giving up the old ones the soul similarly accepts new material bodies giving up the old and useless ones.”) — Bhagavad Gita chapter 2:22

Scientific and medical treatises (Charaka and Sushruta Samhita) form an important part of the Vedas. Sage Charaka deals with internal medicine while Sage Sushruta includes features of organ and limb transplants.

Independent Conservative Evangelical

Generally, Evangelical Christians have no opposition to organ and tissue donation. Each church is autonomous and leaves the decision to donate up to the individual.

Many Independent Conservative Evangelicals support organ donation as an act of charity and compassion towards others. The movement emphasizes the importance of individual freedom and personal responsibility, and many members see organ donation as a way to exercise their freedom to help others in need.


In 2019, the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) announced that organ donation and transplantation is permissible within the Islamic faith and among American Muslims, making a clear religious ruling for Muslims living in North America. Organ donation is permitted in the Islamic faith as long as shar’i guidelines are met and that measures are in place to protect human dignity. Living donation is permitted in order to keep the recipient alive, or an essential function of their body intact. In the case of deceased donation, permission must be given by the deceased before their death or by their heirs after death.

Jehovah’s Witnesses

Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe that the Bible comments directly on organ transplants; hence: decisions made regarding cornea, kidney, or other tissue transplants must be made by the individual. The same is true regarding bone transplants.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are often assumed to be opposed to donation because of their belief against blood transfusion. However, this merely means that all blood must be removed from the organs and tissues before being transplanted. (Office of Public Information for Jehovah’s Witnesses, October 20, 2005.)


Organ, eye and tissue donation is encouraged in the Jewish faith. Donation is seen as an acto of charity and saving a life is considered one of the most important Jewish obligations.

In Judaism, the body is considered a sacred vessel, and respect for the dead is essential. However, the saving of a life is considered a great mitzvah (commandment) and trumps other considerations. Therefore, many Jewish scholars and organizations support the concept of organ donation and consider it a meritorious act of saving a life and performing a mitzvah. Donation and transplantation does not desecrate a body or show lack of respect for the dead.

It is important to note that there are some cultural or religious beliefs and practices within Judaism that may affect a person’s decision to become an organ donor. For example, some Jewish people may have concerns regarding the timing of death declaration, as it is important in Jewish law that burial should take place as soon as possible after death. Therefore, it is important to discuss one’s wishes with family members and spiritual advisors and to ensure that they understand and respect one’s decision to become an organ donor.

The Conservative Movement’s Committee on Jewish Laws and Standards has stated that organ donations after death represent not only an act of kindness, but are also a “commanded obligation” which saves human lives.

Lutheran Church

Organ donation is permitted and encouraged in the Lutheran Church. In the Church’s 1984 resolution, “Organ Donation: A Resolution of the Lutheran Church in America,” donation contributes to the well-being of humanity and is an expression of love for a neighbor in need. The Lutheran Church encourages members to make the necessary family legal arrangements, including registering as a donor.


Mennonites have no formal position on donation but are not opposed to it. Some Mennonites may prefer natural death and may have reservations about medical intervention or prolonging life through organ transplantation. Therefore, it is important to discuss one’s wishes with family members and spiritual advisors and to ensure that they understand and respect one’s decision to become an organ donor.

Ultimately, the decision to donate is personal and should be made based on one’s own beliefs and values.


The Moravian Church has made no statement addressing organ and tissue donation or transplantation. Robert E. Sawyer, president, Provincial Elders Conference, Moravian Church of America, Southern Province, states, “There is nothing in our doctrine or policy that would prevent a Moravian pastor from assisting a family in making a decision to donate or not to donate an organ.” It is, therefore, a matter of individual choice.

Mormon (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) has stated that organ donation is a matter of individual choice and should be made in consultation with family members and medical professionals.

The LDS Church encourages its members to consider becoming organ donors as a way to serve and bless others. The church teaches that the body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and that taking care of one’s health and serving others are important aspects of living a faithful life.

Some Mormons may have concerns about the timing of death declaration and the need for the body to remain intact for burial. Therefore, it is important to discuss one’s wishes with family members and spiritual advisors and to ensure that they understand and respect one’s decision to become an organ donor.

The decision to receive a donated organ should be made after receiving competent medical counsel and confirmation through prayer.


Pentecostals believe that the decision to donate should be left up to the individual.

Many Pentecostals support organ donation as an act of charity and a way to help others in need. In Pentecostal theology, caring for the sick and needy is considered a fundamental Christian duty, and organ donation is seen as a way to fulfill this obligation and show love and compassion towards others.


Organ donation is encouraged by the Presbyterian Church, but the ability to donate is up to the individual and what they want to do with their body. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) encouraged all Christians to become organ and tissue donors in their 1983 General Assembly as an act of ministry to others.


Because of the many different Protestant denominations, a generalized statement on their attitudes toward organ and tissue donation cannot be made. However, the denominations share a common belief in the New Testament. (Luke 6:38: “Give to others and God will give to you”) The Protestant faith respects individual conscience and a person’s right to make decisions regarding his or her own body. In addition, it is generally not believed that resurrection involves making the physical body whole again.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army finds organ donation and transplantation acceptable.

Satanic Temple

The Satanic Temple does not have an official stance on donation.

The Satanic Temple believes in reason, empathy and the pursuit of knowledge. One of their tenets states: One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.

Seventh-day Adventist Church

The Seventh-day Adventist Church does not have an official statement on organ donation. However, the church does have a statement on the care of the dying, which includes the following excerpts:

  1. God’s plan is for people to be nourished within a family and a faith community.
  2. Decisions about human life are best made within the context of healthy family relationships after considering medical advice (Genesis 2:18; Mark 10:6-9; Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 5-6). When a dying person is unable to give consent or express preferences regarding medical intervention, such decisions should be made by someone chosen by the dying person. If no one has been chosen, someone close to the dying person should make the determination.
  3. Christian love is practical and responsible (Romans 13:8-10; 1 Corinthians 13; James 1:27, 2:14-17). Such love does not deny faith nor obligate us to offer or to accept medical interventions whose burdens outweigh the probable benefits. For example, when medical care merely preserves bodily functions, without hope of returning a patient to mental awareness, it is futile and may, in good conscience, be withheld or withdrawn. Similarly, life-extending medical treatments may be omitted or stopped if they only add to the patient’s suffering or needlessly prolong the process of dying.

Additionally, Loma Linda University Medical Center, a Seventh-day Adventist institution, described as “integrating health, science and Christian faith” and specializes in organ transplantation. Loma Linda’s Transplant Institute provides adult and pediatric heart, kidney, liver, and pancreas programs, and performed a combined total of 138 deceased and living donor transplants in 2005.


In Shinto, the deceased’s body is considered to be impure and dangerous, and thus quite powerful. “In folk belief context, injuring a dead body is a serious crime,” according to E. Namihira in his article, “Shinto Concept Concerning the Dead Human Body.” “To this day it is difficult to obtain consent from bereaved families for organ donation or dissection for medical education or pathological anatomy…the Japanese regard them all in the sense of injuring a dead body.” Families are often concerned that they not injure the itai, the relationship between the dead person and the bereaved people.


The Sikh philosophy and teachings place great emphasis on the importance of giving and putting others before oneself:

“Where self exists, there is no GodWhere God exists, there is no self.”— Guru Nanak, Guru Granth Sahib

The Sikh faith stresses the importance of performing noble deeds. There are many examples of selfless giving and sacrifice in Sikh teachings by the 10 Gurus and other Sikhs.

“The dead sustain their bond with the living through virtuous deeds.” — Guru Nanak, Guru Granth Sahib

“The Sikh religion teaches that life continues after death in the soul, and not the physical body. The last act of giving and helping others through organ donation is both consistent with and in the spirit of Sikh teachings.”—Dr. Indarjit Singh OBE, Director of the Network of Sikh Organisations UK

Southern Baptist Convention

Organ donation is considered an act of stewardship and compassion that alleviates the suffering of others by the Southern Baptist Convention. In their 1988 resolution, “Resolution on Human Organ Donations,” the Convention determined that resurrection does not depend on body wholeness.

The SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission has stated that organ donation can be a “final act of Christian stewardship” and encouraged Southern Baptists to consider donation as a way of expressing their faith.

Society of Friends (Quakers)

Organ and tissue donation is believed to be an individual decision. The Society of Friends does not have an official position on donation and many Quakers view organ donation as a way of expressing their commitment to social justice and service to others.

Unitarian Universalist

Organ and tissue donation is widely supported by Unitarian Universalists. They view it as an act of love and selfless giving, according to the Unitarian Universalist Association, or UUA (Erika Nonken, public information assistant, UUA, October 26, 2005). The UUA has no official position on organ and tissue donation. It is up to each person to decide what is appropriate for [him or her].

Unitarian Universalist are free to make their own decisions about their bodies and their end-of-life arrangements. There are no spiritual or theological beliefs in Unitarian Universalism that would prevent an individual from choosing to donate [his or her] organs, as Unitarian Universalism is a creedless religion.

One of the principles of Unitarian Universalism is respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. This principle often encourages Unitarian Universalists to choose have their organs donated after their death, and to otherwise use their bodies, lives, and deaths to help others whenever possible.

United Church of Christ

“United Church of Christ people, churches, and agencies are extremely and overwhelmingly supportive of organ sharing,” writes the Rev. Jay Lintner, director, Washington Office of the United Church of Christ Office for Church in Society. He adds: The General Synod has never spoken to this issue because, in general, the Synod speaks on more controversial issues, and there is no controversy about organ sharing, just as there is no controversy about blood donation in the denomination. While the General Synod has never spoken about blood donation, blood donation rooms have been set up at several General Synods. Similarly, any organized effort to get the General Synod delegates or individual churches to sign organ donation cards would meet with generally positive responses.

United Methodist Church

The United Methodist Church issued a policy statement regarding organ and tissue donation. It states, “The United Methodist Church recognizes the life-giving benefits of organ and tissue donation, and thereby encourages all Christians to become organ and tissue donors by signing and carrying cards or driver’s licenses, attesting to their commitment of such organs upon their death, to those in need, as a part of their ministry to others in the name of Christ, who gave his life that we might have life in its fullness.”

A 1992 resolution states, “Donation is to be encouraged, assuming appropriate safeguards against hastening death and determination of death 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.”

“We are pro-organ donation,” said the Rev. Blaine Bluebaugh of the Graham United Methodist Church in Falls Church, Virginia. “It’s a major thing for us. It’s one of our official days in the calendar. We just believe in it. God has given us the ability to do this, and we should share.”

The United Methodists, as with several religions, believe that organ and tissue donation is an act of charity and that preserving life takes precedence over any beliefs that govern the treatment of the dead.


UNOS: Theological perspective on organ and tissue donation

Donate Life America: Organ Donation and Religion