“Am I wrong in wanting to donate organs for transplantation?” Ensign, Feb. 1988, 50
Cecil O. Samuelson, Jr., regional representative and physician. Organ transplantation is one of the true medical wonders of our age. Medical science has progressed to the point that the replacement of an injured or diseased body part, such as a kidney, cornea of the eye, heart, liver, bone, bone marrow, skin, or pancreas is becoming fairly routine. Most of these tissues come from people who have arranged that they be so used following death. However, some organs—such as kidneys—can be donated to someone in need by a living family member.
As is the case with many other technological advances, questions with profound economic, ethical, moral, and religious dimensions have arisen concerning organ transplantation. And, as with many other important aspects of life, we have been counseled to study the information, make decisions, and pray for wisdom about our choices. (See D&C 9:7–9; D&C 58:26–28.)
The Church has taken no official position on organ transplants. It seems obvious, however, that organ transplantation does not affect one’s resurrection, since the organ would soon have returned to the basic elements of the earth following death anyway. Whatever happens to an organ following death, we are promised that “every limb and joint shall be restored to its body, yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost.” (Alma 40:23.)
In the meantime, tremendous blessings have come to countless thousands and their families through organ donation and replacement. Several physicians involved in transplantation have shared with me inspirational stories and letters from those who have received this special service. Families grieving from the death of a loved one have been greatly comforted by the knowledge that other lives have been saved or measurably improved through receipt of a vital organ transplant. Other families have been spared debilitating illness or death because a living family member was able to donate an organ to a loved one.
As I work with donors and recipients and witness the selfless love that is evident in this gift of life and health, I am often reminded of Peter and John’s encounter with the lame beggar as the two Apostles made their way into the temple. The lame man asked only for alms but instead was healed. To the one in need, Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee.” (Acts 3:6.)
Those who are considering donating a kidney to a loved one should find comfort in knowing that only those who meet strict criteria will be considered as donors. Because of careful screening, and because of advances in transplantation techniques, donors do not face the risk they did just a few years ago. A healthy person can donate a kidney, for example, and continue to live a normal life, sustained by the remaining kidney.
While the matter of vital organ transplantation remains a highly personal one, it deserves prayerful consideration.