Domino transplant


Has the magesterium said anything about “killing” infants who are deemed to be brain dead so that their organs can be transplanted. (Two babies were saved in a recent Ohio double transplant operation.) Aparently when the organs are harvested the brain dead infant is given an injection of potassium chloride to “stop the heart.”


There is no need for the Church to make a statement on this specific procedure. The person is directly killed by injecting a chemical that stops their heart, what part of that is ambiguous?

Killing is always wrong, it’s already covered under the Church teaching regarding the taking of a human life.



**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 a 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.


It is important to know what definition of “brain death” the institution and/ or team that is retrieving the organ is using. There are situations where the pressure inside the head is too high for adequate blood flow to the brain and the only functions are from the brainstem which are involuntary and reflexive. In these circumstances, even the brainstem functions succumb to the lack of blood flow eventually (the brain stem needs less blood than the brain itself). This state is, so far, irreversible and leads to cardiovascular collapse. Certain organs must be taken urgently before this occurs. Since a heart cannot be taken for transplant if it has stopped beating for any amount of time, the potassium injection stops it in a “relaxed” state in order to preserve it for the recipient. It is no different than when a heart surgeon uses potassium during bypass surgery to preserve the heart. The heart is then placed in more preservative solution and rushed to the recipient. In cases like this, there is no Magisterial prohibition and the patient is not considered euthanized, because death of the brain has all ready occured completely and irreversibly.


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