Organ donation logistics


#1

I was wondering if a Catholic decides to become an organ donor, when they pass, does a funeral Mass have to be performed before organs can be removed from the body. It is my understanding that most bodies are cremated after organ donation. I believe that church doctrine is that a funeral Mass has to be held before a body is cremated/a funeral Mass cannot be held for cremated ashes. This would complicate organ donation due to organs only being able to be harvested for around 48 hours after death. The church says it supports organ donation, but that seems to conflict with funeral and burial proceedings. Does this prevent us from being organ donors or is it just a matter of timing? Also, if someone could clarify church doctrine on cremation that make this easier to understand, too.


#2

I was wondering if a Catholic decides to become an organ donor, when they pass, does a funeral Mass have to be performed before organs can be removed from the body…

No.

I believe that church doctrine is that a funeral Mass has to be held before a body is cremated/a funeral Mass cannot be held for cremated ashes.

That is not correct.

Also, if someone could clarify church doctrine on cremation that make this easier to understand, too.

Catholic teaching on cremation:
http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20160815_ad-resurgendum-cum-christo_en.html


#3

So based on that…it wouldn’t necessarily be plausible to have to have funeral Mass before harvesting organs since there are certain times when a funeral Mass cannot be held. Even more so since I realized the 48 hours was just for the liver,and other organs have to be removed sooner.


#4

Organ harvesting is generally done soon after brain death because brain death does not denote the actual moment of death where the soul leaves the body. It is possible to administer Extreme Unction conditionally up to an hour after brain death. So-called “cadaveric” organ harvesting is immoral.


#5

Can you clarify this?


#6

Pope St. John Paul II, in a discourse to the18th International Medical Congress on Transplantation on August 24, 2000, wrote the following: “Individual vital organs in a body can only be removed after death. This requirement is obvious, since to act differently would mean to intentionally bring about the death of the donor by removing his organs”.

Death, as defined theologically, is not the same as brain death as the medical world accepts it. Brain death is not the same as actual death, which is the separation of the soul from the body. Most organs used in harvesting must be removed very soon (as soon as in under an hour) after brain death, otherwise they will be useless. However, there is no certainty that the soul has left; conditional Extreme Unction can be administered within up to an hour after brain death. It is contrary to human dignity to remove organs too soon after brain death, because the person is likely still alive, theologically.


#7

I’m that document, the pope goes on to say that doctors determine whether someone is dead, not the Church.


#8

Exactly, but given a world where abortion and euthanasia are rampant, how likely is it that a doctor will wait long enough before harvesting organs? Brain death is not true death, and since the definition of death is theological in nature, the Church is necessarily involved. She wishes for doctors to be responsible and act in accordance with divine and natural law. :smiley:


#9

My husbands grandmother died and was cremated. They could not schedule a mass for weeks. There were al lot of people in line, it’s a small town. Thank goodness they were able to cremate her right away and not wait 6 weeks.

I think it’s terrible there was a backlog.


#10

I think you are reading into that quote. Of course a person can’t donate a heart, a vital organ, until they are dead. They could donate a kidney because they have another kidney.

Death is a medical determination. It’s true we don’t know when the soul leaves the body, The correct course of action with the teenager who died after surgery was to bury her. It’s a corporal work of mercy to bury the dead. I’m not sure how a catholic hospital was involved in caring for her remains for so long?


#11

It has been explained in detail elsewhere why “brain death” is a fallacy. Death is not exclusively a medical determination; it is also theological. And if someone is still alive and their organs are removed, it is contrary to human dignity because there is the possibility of bringing about that person’s death.

Better to err on the side of caution, in my opinion.


#12

When then can a body be buried or turned into ashes? The church does not have a definition of death other than the medical one. The church is fine with giving life another after a person dies if it’s a vital or while someone is alive like blood donation.


#13

I can hardly believe that I am saying this but I agree. We should stick with cardio-pulmonary determination of death. But that would eliminate organ donation.


#14

Well, nobody is getting my organs then :man_shrugging:t2: Perhaps we should be investing more money in growing organs? :thinking:


#15

Organs can be collected after cardiac death.


#16

CCC 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.

There is an ocean of Catholics that would argue that death was not brought about by harvesting organs after brain death because at brain death, death has already irreversibly invaded the human body. Barring heroic measures (a la Terri Schiavo), that invasion will quickly conquer the rest of the human husk.

Death has already been “brought about”. Harvest the organs while you can so others may yet live…

From EWTN;

In recent years there has been a serious debate among scientists regarding the validity of the “neurological” criterion. Several serious challenges, supported by evidence, have been leveled against it. This debate is continuing, but as of now the magisterium accepts the “neurological criterion” as providing moral certainty that a human person has died.


#17

As far as I know Terri only needed a feeding tube, which is generally ordinary care.


#18

Folks in persistent vegetative states require a bit more than a feeding tube, imo.

As far as ordinary care is concerned, I wonder what our private insurance companies would say if we asked them whether keeping us alive in such states for 15 years (like Terri) would be considered ordinary care, since those bodies are largely the ones that define the term.

But I do recognize that Terri wasn’t brain dead. Just next-door to it.


#19

No. Organs are harvested usually within hours of death on site in the hospital morgue by a team, or more than one team, of professionally trained organ harvesters who travel in for that purpose.

No, they aren’t. I don’t know where you got that from. After harvesting, the body is released to the funeral home of the family’s choice, who can handle it as they wish, burial or cremation, with a service of their choice, in accordance with their beliefs.

There’s no conflict here. Your assumption that bodies are automatically cremated after harvesting was in error.


#20

We don’t ask insurance to cover medical stuff. They chose this when they chose to be an insurance company. She needed what everyone needs. Food, water, to be clean, therapy… She did not need anything medical that would extend life… extraordinarily means. She didn’t need a machine breathing for her.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.