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Old Apr 25, '12, 9:14 am
GWright GWright is offline
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Default Query re Catholicism + organ donation + common good

The matter of organ donation came up recently.

From my best understanding, the Church is (like most other religions) pro-organ donation, to improve or save the lives of others, provided the way the practice is carried out is ethical.

However, what if it came to donating organs for scientific use in the hope of making a breakthrough for the "common good"?

No individual is directly benefiting from this, though it is possible that all humanity could benefit (in the case of a scientific breakthrough).

Now, given the intent is honourable and ultimately seeks to help others, does the Church accept this?

Or, given a piece of a human body is to be used for experiments - which have the likelihood of no good coming out of it - does the Chruch think this is wrong? (perhaps it is treating body parts disrespectfully?)

So, what is the stance when it comes to organs donated for scientific use?

Is the Church pro-this, as long as - again - the practice is carried out ethically?

I ask because, in my area, there is a play being shown which confronts this issue. It has been very well received and good reviews from the respectable press.

The fundamental story is about a convent, where the nuns are asked to donate their brains to science, after their deaths. The idea is that a doctor wants to use the brains to try and learn more about & improve altzheimers treatment for patients.

The play is billed as the nuns struggle between "their faith and embracing science for the good of all".

Where I am from (UK), most people are wholly ignorant about Catholicism, and many would literally believe anything you told them about Catholics and their faith.

Reading about the play made me curious about how the Church views organ donation. As expected, it supports it to help other living people, but what about in this instance, giving body parts for scientific research?

Essentially, I suppose the crux of my question is:

Is the synopsis of the play accurate - is there some Catholic issue with donating body parts to science - or have they just used Catholicism as an easy source to "make something up", (which is very common in the media - eg Da Vinci Code) knowing most people will believe it without thought.

I seem to remember something - an ancient concept - that people had to be buried whole, for it to be a proper burial. I once saw a film - set in Crusading times, so 1,000-odd years ago - where a Catholic priest ordered a dead woman to be beheaded before her burial, as some punishment for her suicide. But I do not know whether this was a general cultural thing, or a specifically Catholic thing. (It would not surprise me if the play was using ancient beliefs/practicses to represent contemporary Catholicism).

Thank you very much if anyone can help, and sorry for the big post.
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Old Apr 25, '12, 9:25 am
JimG JimG is offline
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Default Re: Query re Catholicism + organ donation + common good

As far as I know, the Church has nothing against donation of body parts after death. In fact I know of some Catholics who have donated their entire bodies to medical schools after death. If one can donate one's entire body to science, then one can donate an organ.

The only ethical question is that the body must be treated with respect, and the donation cannot cause death.
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Old Apr 25, '12, 10:08 am
DhuAlQarnayn DhuAlQarnayn is offline
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Default Re: Query re Catholicism + organ donation + common good

There is no issue with donating your body to science in the Catholic faith. Some Ultra-Orthodox Jews are opposed to organ donation for the reasons you state, but the Catholic Church has never taught this in any way. It sounds like a very strange play.
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