Organ donation sounds like it would be a controversial topic, but it doesn't seem to be.

I'm aware that Jehovah's Witnesses won't accept blood transfusions, but, as blood is normally flushed out of the organs, other kinds of transplants are acceptable.

Are there in fact any denominations that oppose either donating or receiving organ transplants, whether from a living or deceased donor?

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    Are you referring to living organ donation (for example a parent or sibling donating a kidney) or are you seeking information about the removal of organs (retina, hearts, lungs, kidneys, liver, spleen etc etc ) from cadavers ?
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jul 23, 2021 at 19:49
  • @Kris, thanks, I've reworded it so it doesn't sound like there are any JW-specific requirements. Commented Jul 23, 2021 at 20:50
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    @NigelJ, thanks. I've made it explicit that I'm asking about either kind of donor. Commented Jul 23, 2021 at 20:51
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    For Jehovah’s Witnesses, it’s up to each individual’s conscience whether to accept an organ transplant, because it could be viewed as cannibalism. The congregation would respect their decision.
    – user32540
    Commented Jul 23, 2021 at 22:00
  • 1
    – Kristopher
    Commented Jul 23, 2021 at 23:53

1 Answer 1


Are there any denominations opposed to organ transplant donation or reception ?

I do not believe that there any denominations that are explicitly opposed to all organ transplant donation or reception.

That stated, the Catholic Church has declared that some human organ transplants are morally forbidden.

The brain and the gonads are not permitted even if the donor is dead.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church has the following guidance in respect to organ donation:

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.

Thus the Church makes an actual distinction in organ transplantation as follows:

  • transplants from a dead body
  • transplants from a living body which would cause the disabling mutilation or death of the donor
  • transplants from a living body which would not cause the disabling mutilation or death of the donor

In the case of reproductive organ and their functions, the Catechism of the Catholic church reads:

2376 Techniques that entail the dissociation of husband and wife, by the intrusion of a person other than the couple (donation of sperm or ovum, surrogate uterus), are gravely immoral. These techniques (heterologous artificial insemination and fertilization) infringe the child's right to be born of a father and mother known to him and bound to each other by marriage. They betray the spouses' "right to become a father and a mother only through each other."

The Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance and Healthcare Workers , in 1995, listed the brain and the gonads as forbidden from transplantation:

The Church teaches that “Ethically, not all organs can be donated. The brain and the gonads may not be transplanted because they ensure the personal and procreative identity respectively. These are organs which embody the characteristic uniqueness of the person, which medicine is bound to protect.” (Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance, Charter for Health Care Workers, 1995, no. 88). - The Womb and Reproductive Technologies: Telos and Integrity

Transplanting a brain is prohibited because personal identity is held to reside in the brain.

A gonad is either a testis in the case of a gentleman, or an ovary in the case of a lady. The prohibition here is about procreative identity. Children, it is intended, should be the genetic descendants of the married couple to whom they are born. Now if Mr X were to receive a transplanted testis from Mr Z and then impregnate Mrs X, the resulting child, Master or Miss X would not be the genetic child of Mr and Mrs A, but of Mr Z and Mrs X. Similarly if Mrs X received an ovary from Ms Y, and was impregnated by Mr X, the child would be the genetic child of Mr X and Ms Y. This is the issue in this scenario.

In the case of a prepubescent boy facing chemotherapy, his testis was removed and later transplanted back. This would not be a problem to the Church as it was not a transplant from another person. Individual integrity is thus maintained!

Even Jehovah’s Witnesses are not opposed to all forms of organ transplantation:

Regarding the transplantation of human tissue or bone from one human to another, this is a matter for conscientious decision by each one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Clearly, personal views and conscientious feelings vary on this issue of transplantation. It is well known that the use of human materials for human consumption varies all the way from minor items, such as hormones and corneas, to major organs, such as kidneys and hearts. While the Bible specifically forbids consuming blood, there is no Biblical command pointedly forbidding the taking in of other human tissue. For this reason, each individual faced with making a decision on this matter should carefully and prayerfully weigh matters and then decide conscientiously what he or she could or could not do before God. It is a matter for personal decision. (Gal. 6:5) The congregation judicial committee would not take disciplinary action if someone accepted an organ transplant. - Should congregation action be taken if a baptized Christian accepts a human organ transplant, such as of a cornea or a kidney?

Organ donation for Mormons, it is a personal decision to be take in conjunction with prayer:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints leaves decisions about organ donation and transplantation entirely up to the individual to decide.

In any moral or medical situation the church would encourage an individual to consider their decision prayerfully.

Organ donation should be for the benefit of others and not for personal gain.

The decision to donate is an individual one that should be made in conjunction with family, medical advisors and prayer.

Whatever the individual's decision is, it should engender a feeling of peace and comfort. - Mormons and organ donation

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    +1, esp. for concrete examples for the Catholic church. Commented Jul 26, 2021 at 2:10

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