Organ donations

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QUESTION: Are organ donations allowed based on the Bible? What did Jesus and Paul teach on the subject?

ANSWER: Organ donations are the removal of healthy tissues from one person and transplanting them into another who needs them. At the present time, the organs that can be given to others include the heart, kidneys, liver, intestines, lungs, pancreas, bones, skin and the corneas of the eyes. The majority of donations occur at the time of death.

Concerning the donation of an organ, Jesus gave us a sense of the worth of our body parts in his Sermon on the Mount. In his message he said that it would be better to have an eye or hand (which leads us to sin) cut off and thrown away that to have our whole body be destroyed (Matthew 5:29 - 30).

The apostle Paul offers us an important principle regarding using our bodies (which, of course, includes an organ) in our service to God. He states, "I exhort you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service" (Romans 12:1, HBFV, see also 6:13). Jesus' definition of love is also relevant to our discussion of organ donations. He stated, ". . . love one another, as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this: that one lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:12 - 13).

Does God approve of cremation?
What exactly is a living sacrifice?
What is the Bible diet?

The donation of an organ so that others might continue living seems to be a good application of the principles taught above by both Jesus and Paul. Such an act would be the literal interpretation of offering our bodies as a sacrifice (Paul), out of love, so that others may live and not die (Jesus).

Organ donation monument in the Netherlands
Organ donation monument
in the Netherlands

Some, who are against organ donations, state that we should leave this world with the same body we came with. This argument seems a bit specious.  After all, within a year after death, the body (with the exception of bones) is completely decomposed and nothing remains but the "dust" from which it was formed. On the other hand, an argument could be made that forbidding the use of one's body parts (organs), upon death, to SAVE the life of another would be rather selfish (especially since you will not be using them anymore).

The decision whether or not to donate organs upon death should not be based upon the myth that a person needs to be "intact" when they are resurrected from the dead. God has the power to resurrect a human no matter how they died or where their physical components ultimately ended up.

In the vision He gave to the prophet Ezekiel, the Eternal shows that he is fully capable of resurrecting humans even if all that is left of them is dry bones (see Ezekiel 37). Organ donations should be based on the truth and a person's prayers to our Creator asking him to reveal his will regarding this potentially lifesaving decision.

Additional Study Materials
What did Ezekiel's dry bones vision mean?
Does God approve of changing one's sex?
Are blood transfusions a sin?
Why shouldn't we eat Ezekiel's bread?

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