April is National Donate Life Month. If you aren't an organ donor, it might be time to consider making that decision part of your health directive. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, about 22 people die every day while waiting for a transplant. One organ donor can save eight lives. More people go on the national transplant waiting list every day. The need is huge.
Some people worry about how religious faith affects organ donation. Most religious groups support the practice, provided it doesn't hasten the end of life. Doctors are probably more cautious when a person is an organ donor, because of the ethical guidelines. Here are some statements from different religions to give you an overview. If you have specific questions about your faith, you should go to your spiritual leader for guidance.
What Different Faiths Say About Donating Organs
Buddhism - "Reverend Gyomay Masao Kubose, 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.'" It is actually left to the individual as a matter of conscience.
Episcopal Church - The 70th General Convention of the Episcopal Church actually urged members to "seriously consider the opportunity to donate organs." The Episcopal Church has a strong dedication to social justice. Organ donation is just another way to contribute to another person's life.
Hinduism - There is no religious law prohibiting organ donation by Hindus, according to the Hindu Temple Society of North America. The decision is left to the individual.
Islam - "Based on the principles and the foregoing attributes of a Muslim, the majority of Islamic legal scholars have concluded that transplantation of organs as treatment for otherwise lethal end-stage organ failure is a good thing. Donation by living donors and by deceased donors is not only permitted but encouraged."
Jehovah's Witnesses - Jehovah's Witnesses are against blood transfusions, but this does not preclude organ donation. It simply means that all the blood must be removed from any organ donation before the transplant is performed. The decision is left to the individual.
Judaism - At one time, many Jews worried about organ donation desecrating a body or showing a lack of respect to the dead, but Rabbi Elliott N. Dorff, bio-ethicist and professor of Jewish theology at the American Jewish University wrote, "Saving a life through organ donation supersedes the rules concerning treatment of a dead body."
Mormons - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes that the decision should be made by the individual or the family of the deceased. Organ donation is a selfless act with great benefits to society.
Pentecostal - The Pentecostal Church takes no position on organ donation, preferring to leave it up to the individual.
Southern Baptist Convention - Although the SBC has not made an official position on organ donation, the general consensus is that it is a matter of personal conscience.
Shinto - It can be difficult to get consent for organ donation from a Shinto family, because the religion views injuring a dead body as a serious crime.
United Methodist, United Church of Christ, Lutherans, Presbyterians many Christian religions encourage, support or endorse organ donation.
Don't Believe the Myths
There are a lot of misconceptions about organ donation. It doesn't cost the donor anything. The doctor won't hurry your death. A child cannot make a decision about organ donation. You can't have an open-casket funeral if you have donated organs or tissue. You don't have to be in the best of health. There's no age limit on organ donation. Get the facts before you say no to organ and tissue donation. Then make your wishes known to your family.