Faith/Spirituality Forum: Heart transplant
Heart transplant QUESTION from Bernie January 2, 2001 I am studying the 5th commandment and am wondering with article 2296 Organ transplant, how is a heart transplant viewed with the Catholic Church? In discussion with some friends it was thought that a cornea or a kidney transplant are okay as they are not a life threatening. What about the heart?
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on March 19, 2001 Dear Mrs. Bernie:
No 2296 of the Catechism only prohibits transplants if there is not informed consent or if the donor is mutilated or killed to get the donated part.
In the case of a live donor, if informed consent is given by both parties and the psychological and physical dangers and risks to the donor are proportionate to the good sought for the recipient, then the transplant is okay.
(A live donor cannot morally donate a body part that would require his own death or unduly mutilate himself).
In the case of a deceased donor, if informed consent is obtained from the recipient, and informed consent is established by a legitimate written statement from the deceased authorizing donation of some or all body parts upon his death, or if family members of the deceased authorize the donation, then the transplant is okay.
In obtaining a donated organ or body part from a deceased person, the person must have died from natural causes, accident, or some other incidental cause. It is not moral to kill someone, or to hasten a person's death, in order to harvest a body part.
Specifically in the case of heart transplant. As long as the recipient agrees to the transplant, and the dead donor has signed a written permission for donation or the family agrees to it, then a heart transplant is fine.
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