The Sanctity of Life and the Resurrection - Fifth in a Series
Several days ago all the major networks covered a six-way organ transplant ‘swapportunity’ story. The CBS Evening News video is below. Donors and recipients are shown in a happy press conference.
This type of news is designed to encourage live kidney donation as well as signing drivers’ licenses. The donors are special people whom we admire. No one should belittle their unselfish acts. However there are voices of caution and warning against such altruism that should be heard as well.
On the bottom right of this page, a Blog, Living Donors Are People Too, provides information to tell the other side of the story, and some references are on Biotech Blog’s previous series about Live Kidney Donation. The LinkList (below right) offers numerous resources.
A site that focuses more on organ donation by those presumed to be dead, LifeGuardianFoundation.org, offers a download, “Do You Want to Be an Organ Donor?” Here is one question and answer provided by Dr. Paul Byrne who has sounded the alarm about organ donation over many years.
Q: What happens to the donor after vital organs are taken?
A: After the heart, whole liver, pancreas and/or intestines are excised, the donor is truly dead. When a portion of the liver, a part of one lung, one of two lungs, or one of two kidneys is taken, the donor will be weaker. When a portion of the liver is taken, regeneration of the liver might occur. When one kidney is taken, the donor will no longer have a kidney in reserve for himself and might have reduced kidney function. Long term follow up raises concern about related heart disease.
In view of these facts, it may be helpful to think about Christian martyrdom compared with organ donation. (A similar list is in the Flesh & Bone & The Protestant Conscience ebook). This list can also help us to think about altruism in the context of organ donation as well.
||The Christian martyr chooses death rather than to renounce faith in Christ. Does not create the dilemma but is rather confronted or ensnared by it.
||Organ donors put themselves in path of danger.*
||Proves faith and love for Christ.
||Proves love for family member or fellow human who is the organ recipient. Family of donor may become his/her caregiver and experience serious financial distress.
||Obedience to God’s Word (Mat 10:33; Luk 12:9).
||The Christian has not balanced the wisdom of Ps. 139 against the act of donating.
||“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”
||Furthers the agenda of organ donation enthusiasts.
||Result is physical death.
||Result is usually life extension for the recipient, but could be death for donor or recipient.
|*Without a doubt, the more that organ donation is promoted and approved by the churches, the more a tender-hearted person will feel a constraint of conscience to donate.
The martyr’s desire and mission is to maintain a Christian witness. We may question whether the organ donors or recipients show a positive Christian witness in light of the points made in this list.
As well, Christians throughout history have at times chosen death over betrayal of fellow believers or others, but in the case of organ donation innocent victims are preyed upon or sold for their organs. Example
We now turn to consider the concept of altruism in the context of organ donation.
While the purpose of this blog series is to set forth Scriptural reasons why belief in the doctrine of the resurrection means a Christian should not share body parts nor be cremated, it is also interesting to consider why a particular Scripture may NOT be quoted in support of organ donation. The following pertains to the person who has signed his driver's license.
A Canadian Christian physician, Dr. Greg Kenyon, explains why Jesus’ words, Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13), should not be construed to uphold organ donation by presumably dead donors.
Can a person allow his life to be taken to help someone else? Do we not accept this in other circumstances, like a person taking a bullet, or diving in front of a train to save someone else? These are likely the nearest thing to a selfless act possible. One is not thinking about death, or reflecting on the worth of their life, when they take a bullet. With organ donation, there is time to think.
A healthy person, whose life is good is unlikely to choose death and give away vital organs. Some of us might accept an elderly person, who is near death, choosing to shorten his life to give away vital organs, but what about a 25 year old healthy man? Can he do the same thing, as long as he is giving his life for another? We tend to think of organ donation when a person is near death anyway and “does not have much life left,” rather than from a healthy person. If by “laying down one’s life” we are referring only to those already dying, is this really like “laying down one’s life” as Christ did? It appears more like saying, “My life is not worth much anymore. I might as well give it up and allow someone worth more than me to live.” Is this an expression of the greatest love referred to in John 15:13?...
Jesus willingly gave His life. He was not dying when He chose to give His life. He was very much alive. If when saying, “Christians may consider donating vital organs to others in need, even when this may bring about their death,” we refer to a man like the 25 year old mentioned above, then I think I can agree that it may fit the passage, that is, as long as it does not require another person to sin. Unfortunately, a person cannot take out his own organs. The man’s life must be taken by others. (The surgical team, the anesthetists, etc) I don’t think this can be done without their breaking the 6th commandment to not kill? Read more.
Dr. Kenyon also offers loving words for any who have pursued biomedical technologies that are not supported by the Word of God.
I believe Dr. Kenyon is not opposed to live kidney donation. He does not refer to a kidney as a vital organ since a person can live with only one, whereas Dr. Byrne does refer to a kidney as a vital organ. If there are debilitating consequences following a live kidney transplant, the lost kidney will be viewed as vital. So much depends on a person's perspective.
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