Q: Does the Catholic Church allow the donation of organs?
Yes. The church does allow the donation of organs. The late Pope John Paul II once described transplants as "a great step forward in science's service of man, and not a few people today owe their lives to an organ transplant". (Address of John Paul II to the 18th International Congress of the Transplantation Society, Aug 29, 2000)
In fact, in his Encyclical Letter "Evangelium Vitae" ("The Gospel of Life", 1995), he had suggested that one way of nurturing a genuine culture of life "is the donation of organs, performed in an ethically acceptable manner, with a view to offering a chance of health and even of life itself to the sick who sometimes have no other hope" (No. 86).
However, it should also be noted that certain important conditions must be met for organ transplantation to take place in an ethical manner. Among these are the need for free, proper, full and informed consent on the part of the donor or those responsible for his care. In the case of organs taken from a dead person, it is important that the criteria for ascertaining that the donor is truly dead are met before such a procedure is carried out.
Catechism of the Catholic Church 2296 Organ 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.
Catholics view organ and tissue donation as an act of charity and love. Transplants are morally and ethically acceptable to the Vatican. According to Father Leroy Wickowski, Director of the Office of Health Affairs of the Archdiocese of Chicago, "We encourage donation as an act of charity. It is something good that can result from tragedy and a way for families to find comfort by helping others." Pope John Paul II has stated, "The Catholic Church would promote the fact that there is a need for organ donors and that Christians should accept this as a 'challenge to their generosity and fraternal love' so long as ethical principles are followed."