How Does the Church Treat Organ Transplantation?

The Orthodox Church is guided by two sources in its activities: Holy Scripture as the word of God and Church Tradition, which in fact is an attempt of the holy fathers and teachers of the Church to interpret and explain Scripture correctly. Neither the first nor the second source contains direct answers to this question, because, in fact, the practice of organ transplantation is quite young. But at the same time, both in the Holy Scriptures and in the Holy Tradition there are indirect indications of whether it is possible for a person to turn to organ transplantation.

In 2000, the Council of Bishops adopted an official document, “The Basis of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church,” which governs the position of the Church on certain issues.

This document does not talk about the possibility of organ transplantation in general, but indicates that the use of donor organs is prohibited if this is done without the consent of the donor himself; because such a practice is, first of all, a violation of human freedom. And all the more, donorship is prohibited when commercial purposes are pursued in its application.

But if donorship is a manifestation of a person’s free will, there is nothing reprehensible in it. The main principle of Christianity, which is proclaimed in all the books of the New Testament, is the commandment of love for neighbor. The Lord Jesus Christ says: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).  And love for neighbor can be expressed in different ways, including through voluntary donorship.

Thus, when answering the question about the possibility of organ transplantation, but only voluntary, we must remember that Christ came to this world to save man, and for this He, being both God and man, voluntarily sacrificed Himself. And each of us, as an Orthodox Christian, must follow the example of Christ’s sacrifice, because there is a truly Christian meaning in the desire to sacrifice a part of ourselves for others.

Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds

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