A Message on Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation: Giving Something of Ourselves

Tuesday, February 20 2001

(CCCB – Ottawa) Two Catholic organizations have come together to publish a leaflet entitled Giving Something of Ourselves to make better known the Catholic Church’s position on organ and tissue donations and transplantation.

The Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) and the Catholic Health Association of Canada (CHAC), taking their title directly from the words of Pope John Paul II, wish to outline the reasons why the Church supports organ donation and transplantation and to explain the ethical considerations to be respected.

Pope John Paul II, speaking at the 18th International Congress of the Transplantation Society in August 2000, described the gift of an organ as a noble 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.”

The leaflet also examines the issues of xenotransplantation (the use of animal organs) and the cloning of human embryos. In the case of human embryos, both COLF and CHAC vigorously insist on Catholic teaching that states “the embryo is a human being and must be treated as a person.”

The leaflet encourages people to talk to their family and friends about decisions to donate organs and tissues. It goes on to say that the decision to donate belongs to each individual and that “organ donation is not an obligation: it is an act of self-giving. It is a decision made freely, based on knowledge, clarity of mind and concern for the needs of others.”

Giving Something of Ourselves may be obtained by contacting COLF at (613) 241-9461, ext. 230, or by electronic mail at ocfvcolf@cccb.ca. It is also available from CHAC at (613) 731-7148 or by electronic mail at chac@web.ca. For more information about both groups one can visit their websites at http://colf.cccb.ca and http://www.chac.ca. It is also available for viewing on the Internet in PDF format or text format.

COLF was jointly founded by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Knights of Columbus to promote respect for human life and dignity and the essential role of the family. CHAC is a national Christian association committed to health care in the tradition of the Catholic Church. It represents health care and social service organizations including 127 hospitals and homes, as well as health professionals involved in all levels of health care throughout the country.