Recently canonized Pope Saint John Paul II said of organ donation in 2000, “Increasingly, the technique of transplants has proven to be a valid means of attaining the primary goal of all medicine – the service of human life. That is why in the Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae I suggested that one way of nurturing a genuine culture of life ‘is the donation of organs, performed in an ethically acceptable manner, with a view to offering a chance of health and even of life itself to the sick who sometimes have no other hope’ (No. 86).”
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was an organ donor before he became Pope Benedict XVI, now Pope Emeritus. As you can see, Catholic support for organ donation is well known and includes among its advocates the Pennsylvania Catholic Health Association (PCHA) and the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference (PCC).
Organ donation is managed through state and federal law. Legislation should encourage this charitable self-giving by setting ethically responsible guidelines to ensure clear advanced and informed consent is given and that the wishes of the deceased are respected.
Organ donation is an act of love, one that must be treated with seriousness and respect. The decision must be based upon informed consent, a donative spirit that views the donation as a gratuitous gift and charitable act, and respect for the dignity of the person. Organ donations must only be made by the donor or his or her family, not by presumed consent. These bases are the foundation upon which the PCHA evaluates organ donation proposals before the Pennsylvania General Assembly. On May 13, PCHA will testify about HB 30 (Donate Life PA Act) and explain the importance of these principles for any legislative proposal.