July 28, 1998

Organ Donation Supported by Religion According to Newly Released Guide

Richmond, Va.-- The larger religious denominations in the United States have either endorsed organ donation or have left it to individual choice, according to  Organ and Tissue Donation: A Reference Guide for Clergy, a comprehensive guide just published by The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) and the South-Eastern Organ Procurement Foundation (SEOPF).

"One of the reasons often given for not donating organs or tissues is the mistaken belief that donation is against the person's religion," said William W. Pfaff, UNOS president. "So, it's important for people to know that the larger religions in the U.S. support organ donation." "Most religions see organ donation as the ultimate act of charity," said Pfaff. "The reference guide serves as a valuable tool for all faiths."

There are more than 57,000 patients waiting for a transplant, but more than 11 will die each day without getting their needed transplant. The number of deaths will only grow unless something is done to improve the critical shortage of organ donors nationwide

Frequently, families turn to their priest, rabbi or minister for guidance regarding organ and tissue donation when faced with the death of a loved one. Organ and Tissue Donation: A Reference Guide for Clergy is designed to give clergy members a solid understanding of the organ donation and transplantation process so they can better assist at the time of greatest need.

The guide contains statements supporting organ donation and transplantation from 26 different religions in the United States, including Catholicism, Islam, Judaism and various Protestant denominations.  Along with a background on the organ donation and transplantation system, there is a section containing sample sermons for several different religious denominations. Biblical principles supporting donation are provided for use by Christian clergy of all denominations, as are suggested hymns.

Organ and Tissue Donation: A Reference Guide for Clergy is available on our online store.

UNOS is a private non-profit organization that unifies transplantation activities nationwide by establishing uniform policies to govern organ procurement, distribution and transplantation. Also, it administers the National Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network and the U.S. Scientific Registry for Organ Transplantation under contract with the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

SEOPF was founded in 1969 as one of the first regional organ sharing programs in the nation. Today, it is made up of 63 organizations from 19 states and the District of Columbia. Their main mission is to promote organ sharing and research by member organizations.