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Organ Donation: Does my Religion Support it?

April is National Organ Donor Month

This question came up during a recent estate planning design session with a client. My client was Catholic and as a practicing Catholic, I readily knew the answer. But what was the viewpoint about organ donation in other worldwide religions? What was viewpoint about organ donation among the different denominations or "church families" within Christianity? And did it matter if the donor was alive or deceased?


I did some research on this topic and discovered no religion formally forbids donation or receipt of organs, or is against transplantation from living or deceased (cadaveric) donors.

But I also discovered it is not so simple. For example, some Orthodox Jews have a religious objection to “opting in” to organ donation/transplant. Transplantation from deceased donors may be discouraged by Native Americans, Rroma Gypsies, Confucians, Shintoists, and some Orthodox rabbis. Some South Asia Muslim scholars oppose donation from human living and deceased donors because the human body is an "amanat" (trusteeship) from God and must not be desecrated following death, but they encourage xenotransplantation research (the process of grafting or transplanting organs or tissues between members of different species).


No religion formally obliges one to donate or refuse organs. No religion formally obliges one to consider cadaveric organs "a societal resource" or considers organ donation "a religious duty". Some Orthodox Jews and some Islamic scholars have proposed directed organ donation only to people of the same religion.


No religion prefers cadaveric over a living donation, but some Muslim scholars and some Asian religions may prefer living donation over a cadaveric donation. No religion formally forbids non-heart-beating donors (NHBD), cadaveric donation, or cross-over donation[1]. Due to the sanctity of human life, the Catholic Church is against donation from anencephalic