Letter to Federal Health Minister Allan Rock Welcoming the Establishment of the National Council on Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation

Tuesday, April 10 2001

The Honourable Allan Rock
Minister of Health
Brooke Claxton Building
Postal Locator 0916A
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0K9

Dear Mr. Rock,

Re: Organ Donation

The Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) would like to commend you and your provincial counterparts for implementing your promise to establish a National Council on Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation.

As an organization dedicated to promoting human life and dignity, we strongly support organ donation as a way of giving so that others who are in need or suffering might live. Last August Pope John Paul II said that every organ donation for the health and well being of another is a noble gesture, a gesture which is a genuine act of love. It is not just a matter of giving something that belongs to us but of giving something of ourselves.

We note from the media reports that the Council will be involved in supporting the provinces and medical profession in creating national safety standards for organ transplants. While we strongly affirm organ donation in principle, there are many ethical issues that need to be addressed such as defining the moment of death, the criteria for choosing the recipient, informed consent, and non-commercialization. The ethics and safety of xenotransplantation require in-depth study.

As an organization concerned with the family, we have prepared in collaboration with the Catholic Health Association of Canada a leaflet on organ donation called Giving Something of Ourselves. It is primarily addressed to Catholic families and health care workers. The leaflet gives some examples of tissue and organ donation, underlines that the Church is strongly in favour of tissue and organ donation and encourages people to include their loved ones in decisions about whether to donate. In the last six weeks we have distributed almost 40,000 copies. The leaflet in English and French is enclosed for your information.

We look forward to hearing more about the work of the Council and hope that you will include ethicists and members of the faith community in its work. If you think that there is any way that our organization could contribute, we would be happy to do so.

On a personal note, I would like to assure you of our prayers for a full recovery and the blessings of good health.


Most Reverend Bertrand Blanchet
Archbishop of Rimouski
Catholic Organization for Life and Family