Joined in life. Connected by faith.

When a family is faced with losing a loved one, they often reach out to their faith leader for spiritual guidance and to ask about their faith's perspective on organ, eye and tissue donation. When faith leaders encourage their members to learn the facts and to register their donation decision before a family crisis, the burden of making a decision is lessened. Below are ways Lifeline of Ohio can support you with free resources.

A legacy of giving

Faith Statements Regarding Donation

AME & AME ZION (African Methodist Episcopal)

Organ and tissue donation is viewed as an act of neighborly love and charity by these denominations. They encourage all members to support donation as a way of helping others.


The Amish will consent to transplantation if they believe it is for the well-being of the transplant recipient. John Hostetler, a world-renowned authority on the Amish religion, wrote in his book, Amish Society, “The Amish believe that since God created the human body, it is God who heals. However, nothing in the Amish understanding of the Bible forbids them from using modern medical services, including surgery, hospitalization, dental work, anesthesia, blood transfusions, or immunization.”

Assembly of God

The answer to the question of organ donation, according to the General Council of the Assemblies of God, is rooted in one’s understanding of the doctrine of resurrection, Article 13, “The Blessed Hope,” in the council’s Statement of Fundamental Truths. The council’s response is as follows (Office of Public Relations, General Council of the Assemblies of God, November 2, 2005):

  • The apostle Paul makes it very clear that the mortal bodies we now have cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:35-58; 2 Corinthians 5:1-10). The Bible also makes it clear that to be absent from this body is to be at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-10).
  • When we go to be with the Lord to await the rapture and resurrection of those left alive until the coming of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:15), our bodies return to dust (Genesis 2:7, 3:19; 1 Corinthians 15:45-50). We have no more need of the fallen mortal bodies we now bear.
  • Donating our organs may give the “gift of life” to someone else long after we have gone home to be with the Lord. If the recipient is a Christian, the resource of the organ has the potential to facilitate continued Christian service and the living witness of a fellow believer here on earth. If the recipient is not a Christian, it may allow the individual additional time and opportunity to accept Christ. A fascinating possibility is to imagine the impact if Christian donors were to stipulate that their donated organs be accompanied by a handwritten letter telling of the donor’s life, testimony, and relationship with Christ.
  • The alternative is to keep our organs even in death. This also is a valid choice for the Christian. This was the practice for all until recent years when transplant procedures have proven viable.
  • Ultimately, the question comes down to whether or not we view it right for our organs to be candidates for resource.
  • The realization that organ donations save lives and provide for a continuing witness of God’s love and grace does not mean that failure to donate organs would be sinful. All of us should seek God’s will for our choices in this matter. It should be discussed fully with one’s
    entire family.
  • Many considering organ donation will have theological concerns and questions. If we donate our organs to others, will that have any effect on our resurrection? But we must also ask, “Does God need any given molecule or atom from our bodies in order to resurrect us to life?” The apostle Paul said, “No.” That which is perishable does not inherit the imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:49-50). The resurrection brings a new spiritual body.

There is no prohibition in the Bahá’í Faith on organ donation. It is a matter left to the individual conscience (Office of Public Information, Bahá’í International Community, November 10, 2005).


Buddhists believe that organ and tissue donation is a matter of individual conscience, and they place high value on acts of compassion. The Rev. Gyomay Masao, president and founder of the Buddhist Temple of Chicago, said, “We honor those people who donate their bodies and organs to the advancement of medical science and to saving lives.” The importance of letting loved ones know your wishes is stressed.

There are no injunctions in Buddhism for or against organ donation. The death process of an individual is viewed as a very important time that should be treated with the greatest care and respect. In some traditions, the moment of death is defined according to criteria which differ from those of modern Western medicine, and there are differing views as to the acceptability of organ transplantation. The needs and wishes of the dying person must not be compromised by the wish to save a life. Each decision will depend on individual circumstances.

Central to Buddhism is a wish to relieve suffering and there may be circumstances where organ donation may be seen as an act of generosity. Where it is truly the wish of the dying person, it would be seen in that light.

If there is doubt as to the teachings within the particular tradition to which a person belongs, expert guidance should be sought from a senior teacher within the tradition concerned.

When he discovered a monk sick and uncared for, the Buddha said to the other monks, “Whoever would care for me, let him care for those who are sick.” Mahavagga VIII.26.1-8 (Kucchivikara-vatthu – The Monk with Dysentery, translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu)

Church of the Brethren

The Church of the Brethren commits itself and urges its congregations, institutions, and members to:

  • Inform and educate themselves by taking advantage of resources within their region as to organ and tissue donation.
  • Support and encourage individuals to be in discussion with clergy and family as to their wishes regarding the use of their organs and/or tissues for transplantation upon death.
  • Encourage and support individuals to include within their advance medical directives instructions as to their wishes for organ and tissue donation.
  • Support those living donors who, with prayerful consideration, make an organ or tissue gift, provided that such a gift does not deprive the donor of life itself nor the functional integrity of his or her body.
  • Encourage our clergy to prepare themselves to respond to the special needs of family and friends at the time of organ and tissue procurement.

Roman Catholics view organ and tissue donation as an act of charity and love, as reported in the Catholic publication Origins in 1994.

Transplants are morally and ethically acceptable to the Vatican. According to Father Leroy Wickowski, Director of the Office of Health Affairs of the Archdiocese of Chicago, “We encourage donation as an act of charity. It is something good that can result from tragedy and a way for families to find comfort by helping others.” Pope John Paul II has stated, “The Catholic Church would promote the fact that there is
a need for organ donors and that Christians should accept this as a ‘challenge to their generosity and fraternal love’ so long as ethical principles are followed.”

Catholic health care institutions should encourage and provide the means whereby those who wish to do so may arrange for the donation of the organs and bodily tissues for the ethically legitimate purposes, so that they may be used for donation and research after death. The following is taken from the New York Organ Donor Network:

In 1956, Pope Pius XII declared that: “A person may will to dispose of his body and to destine it to ends that are useful, morally irreproachable and even noble, among them the desire to aid the sick and suffering….This decision should not be condemned but positively justified.”

In August 2000, Pope John Paul II told attendees at the International Congress on Transplants in Rome: “Transplants are a great step forward in science’s service of man, and not a few people today owe their lives to an organ transplant. 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.…There is a need to instill in people’s hearts, especially in the hearts of the young, a genuine and deep appreciation of the need for brotherly love, a love that can find expression in the decision to become an organ donor.”

In the Summer/Fall 2001 issue of On the Beat, a publication of the New York Organ Donor Network, His Eminence Edward Cardinal Egan, Archbishop of New York, wrote that, “in thinking about the glorious gift of life God has given each of us, one of the greatest ways an individual can honor that gift is being an organ donor.”

In his encyclical letter, Evangelium Vitae (On the Value and Inviolability of Human Life), His Holiness Pope John Paul II speaks of society’s fascination with a “culture of death.” He calls on Catholics and people of good faith everywhere to move from that culture towards a celebration and reflection of the glory of God in a “culture of life. When asked to share my thoughts on the importance of organ donation for this publication, it was Evangelium Vitae that immediately came to mind. In thinking about the glorious gift of life God has given each of us, it would seem that one of the greatest ways an individual can honor that gift is by making a conscious decision to be an organ donor—a decision that enables another’s life to continue—and in a very real and tangible way promotes ‘a culture of life. ‘”

Organ donation is, as His Holiness has stated, “a genuine act of love.” The commitment of one person to give the “gift of life” to another person mirrors an essential foundation upon which the teachings of Christ and the theology of our Church are based. As Saint John tells us, “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). By knowingly choosing the donations of one’s bodily organs, one is acting as Christ would act—giving life to humanity.

The Catholic Church views organ donation as an act of charity. The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, a set of principles that guide the healing mission of the Church, clearly explains the permissibility of organ donations. In Directive No. 30, we read: “The transplantation of organs from living donors is morally permissible when such a donation will not sacrifice or seriously impair any essential bodily function and the anticipated benefit to the recipient is proportionate to the harm to the donor.” Similarly, Directives No. 63-66 treat organ donation as follows: Directive No. 63: “Catholic health care institutions should encourage and provide the means whereby those who wish to do so may arrange for the donation of their organs and bodily tissue, for ethically legitimate purposes, so that they may be used for donation and research after death.” Directive No. 64: “Such organs should not be removed until it has been medically determined that the patient has died. In order to prevent any conflict of interest, the physician who determines death should not be a member of the transplant team.”

The donation of organs in a morally acceptable manner, at the end of life, offers the gifts of health and life to those who are most vulnerable and who are at times without hope. It is one of the many pro-life positions an individual can choose in order to foster a culture that values life in our world.

As to what criteria constitute a “morally acceptable manner,” it is essential that organ transplantation occur in the context of love and respect for the dignity of the human person. There are, of course, parameters in determining when and how organs should be donated. It is the Church’s position that transplanted organs never be offered for sale. They are to be given as a gift of love. Any procedure that
commercializes or considers organs as items for exchange or trade is morally unacceptable. The decision as to who should have priority in regards to organ transplantation must be based solely on medical factors and not on such considerations as age, sex, religion, social standing or other similar standards.

In addition, it is of the utmost importance that informed consent by the donor and/or donor’s legitimate representatives be had and that vital organs, those that occur singly in the body, are removed only after certain death (the complete and irreversible cessation of all brain activity) has occurred.

As Pope John Paul II observes in Evangelium Vitae, “There is an everyday heroism, made up of gestures and sharing, big or small, which build up an authentic culture of life. A particularly praiseworthy example of such gestures is the donation of organs in a morally acceptable manner.”

It is for the betterment of humanity, for the love of one’s fellow human beings, that organ donation is undertaken. One of the most powerful ways for individuals to demonstrate love for their neighbor is by making an informed decision to be an organ donor.


There is definite evidence for Christian support of organ donation.

The Lord demonstrated with his own life how, even in sorrow, love enables us to embrace the needs of others. We can choose to donate our organs to save the lives of many people. The decision to donate at the end of life is the beginning of healing for many others.

Healing and saving life is a great gift. Jesus sent his 12 disciples out with the imperative to heal disease and illness: “Heal the sick … freely ye have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8)

“In eternity we will neither have nor need our earthly bodies: former things will pass away, all things will be made new.” (Revelation 21: 4-5)

“I hope that Christian people will seriously and positively consider organ donation. The ready willingness to donate an organ is a clear sign of that sacrificial self-giving for others patterned by Jesus Christ.” — David Ebor, Archbishop of York

“Every organ transplant has its source in a decision of great ethical value… Here lies the nobility of a gesture which is a genuine act of love. There is a need to instill in people’s hearts a genuine and deep love that can find expression in the decision to become an organ donor.” — His Holiness Pope John Paul II

“Any act that can save life, such as organ donation, is a great thing and quite acceptable within our faith.” — Council of African and Afro-Caribbean Churches (UK)

“The Methodist Church has consistently supported organ donation and transplantation in appropriate circumstances, as a means through which healing and health may be made possible.”— Methodist Church UK

“Christians should generally be encouraged to help others in need, and organ donation can be a very concrete and sacrificial way of helping.” — The Rt Reverend Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

The Christian Church encourages organ and tissue donation, stating that individuals were created for God’s glory and for sharing of God’s love. A 1985 resolution, adopted by the general assembly, encourages “members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to enroll as organ donors and prayerfully support those who have received an organ transplant.”

Christian Science

The Church of Christ Scientist does not have a specific position regarding organ donation. According to the First Church of Christ Scientist in Boston, Christian Scientists normally rely on spiritual instead of medical means of healing. They are free, however, to choose whatever form of medical treatment they desire, including a transplant. The question of organ and tissue donation is an individual decision.

Church of the Nazarene

The Church of the Nazarene encourages members who do not object personally to support donor and recipient anatomical gifts through living wills and trusts. Further, the Church appeals for morally and ethically fair distribution of organs to those qualified to receive them (Manual, Church of the Nazarene, 1997-2001, paragraph 904.2).


The 70th General Convention of the Episcopal Church recommends and urges “all members of this Church to consider seriously the opportunity to donate organs after death that others may live, and that such decision be clearly stated to family, friends, church and attorney.”

Evangelical Covenant Church

The following regarding the Evangelical Covenant Church is from the New York Organ Donor Network: “A resolution passed at the Annual Meeting in 1982 encouraged members to sign and carry organ donor cards. The resolution also recommended ‘that it becomes a policy with our pastors, teachers, and counselors to encourage awareness of organ donation in all our congregations.’

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:

  • Regards the donation of deceased donor organs as an appropriate means of contributing to the health and well-being of the human family.
  • Recognizes that the donation of renewable tissue (e.g., bone marrow) and live organs (e.g. kidney) can be an expression of sacrificial love for a neighbor in need.
  • Encourages its members to consider the possibility of organ donation and to communicate their wishes to family members, physicians and health care institutions.
  • Encourages those willing to donate to make the necessary familial and legal arrangements including the use of a signed donor card.
  • Calls upon its pastors to acquaint themselves with the ethical and legal issues and clinical procedures involved in order that they may counsel persons and families considering the possibility of donation.
  • Urges its pastors, congregations, synods, agencies and institutions to sponsor educational programs on organ donation.
  • Calls upon government to establish public policies which will encourage voluntary donations, discourage coercive donation, assure the efficient, equitable distribution of human organs and tissues for transplants, and disallow both the sale and purchase of human organs.
Greek Orthodox

The Rev. Stanley S. Harakas, former professor of ethics at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, wrote the following about donation:

“In the case of organ transplants, the crucial ethical considerations are two-fold; the potential harm inflicted upon the donor and the need of the recipient. Historically, the Orthodox Church has not objected to similar, though not identical, procedures, such as blood transfusions and skin grafts. In both cases, no radical threat to the life of the donor is perceived, and the lifesaving consequences for the recipient are substantial. Similar considerations affect the Orthodox Christian judgment of organ transplants. In no case should a person ignore or make light of the ethical implications of organ donation. Donating an organ whose loss will impair or threaten the life of the potential donor is never required and is never a moral obligation of any person. If the condition of health and the physical well-being of the donor permits, some transplants are not objectionable. Kidney transplants are a case in point. A healthy person may consent to donate a kidney knowing that his or her health is not thereby impaired. The recipient of an organ transplant should be in otherwise good health, with the expectation of restoring to normal living in order to warrant the risk to the donor.”

Gypsies (Roma)

Gypsies are a people of different ethnic groups without a formalized religion. They share common folk beliefs and tend to be opposed to organ donation. Their opposition is connected with their beliefs about the afterlife. Traditional belief contends that for 1 year after death the soul retraces its steps. Thus, the body must remain intact because the soul maintains its physical shape.


According to the Hindu Temple Society of North America, Hindus are not prohibited by religious law from donating their organs. This act is an individual’s decision.

H. L. Trivedi, in Transplantation Proceedings, stated that “Hindu mythology has stories in which the parts of the human body are used for the benefit of other humans and society. There is nothing in the Hindu religion indicating that parts of humans, dead or alive, cannot be used to alleviate the suffering of other humans.”

The Swamis were universal in their approval of organ donation. They did not accept the concept sometimes heard in India that if one donated [his or her] eyes in this life, they would be blind in the next. Shri Mahant Krishan Nath Ji, based in Haryana, explained, “If someone donates an organ willingly, then there is nothing wrong in that. And it is wrong to say that if you donate eyes in this birth, that in your
next birth you would be born without eyes. We have the story of Baba Sheel Nath of Nath Sampradaya who transferred the sight of one of his eyes to that of a blind lady by his yogic powers. So our Nath Sampradaya has had such realized saints who even made people immortal. To them, eye donation was a very small thing.”

Another source reports: “Hindu methodology contains traditions in which human body parts were used for the benefit of other humans and society. There is nothing in the Hindu religion which would prevent living or cadaveric donation to alleviate suffering.”

There are many references that support the concept of organ donation in Hindu scriptures. These include the following:

  • Daan is the original word in Sanskrit for donation meaning selfless giving. In the list of the 10 Niyamas (virtuous acts) Daan comes third.
  • “Of all the things that it is possible to donate, to donate your own body is infinitely
    more worthwhile.” — The Manusmruti
  • Life after death is a strong belief of Hindus and is an ongoing process of rebirth. The law of Karma decides which way the soul will go in the next life. The Bhagavad Gita describes the mortal body and the immortal soul in a simple way like the relationship of clothes to a body:
    “vasamsi jirnani yatha vihaya
    navani grhnati naro ‘parani
    tatha sarirani vihaya jirnany
    anyani samyati navandi dehi.”
    (“As a person puts on new garments
    giving up the old ones
    the soul similarly accepts new material bodies
    giving up the old and useless ones.”)
    — Bhagavad Gita chapter 2:22
  • Scientific and medical treatises (Charaka and Sushruta Samhita) form an important part of the Vedas. Sage Charaka deals with internal medicine while Sage Sushruta includes features of organ and limb transplants.
  • “The important issue for a Hindu is that which sustains life should be accepted and promoted as Dharma (righteous living). Organ donation is an integral part of our living.”— Hasmukh Velji Shah, International Trustee, World Council of Hindus
  • “Organ donation is in keeping with Hindu beliefs as it can help to save the life of others.” — Mr Om Parkash Sharma MBE, President, National Council of Hindu Temples
  • “I always carry my donor card with me. It says that my whole body can be used for organ donation and medical purposes after my death. I would like to encourage as many people as possible to do the same.” — Dr Bal Mukund Bhala, Co-ordinator Hindu International Medical Mission, Former President Hindu Council UK

Faith resources

We encourage all faith groups to set aside time to talk about organ, eye and tissue donation.

Display Donation Materials

To request a Donor Memorial Quilt, Education Display, or 11 x 17 Donation Posters, please contact us

Download the following materials now:

Distribute Materials to Members

Brochures, bookmarks and hand fans are all available for order. You can also request one of Lifeline of Ohio’s Donation Awareness Kits, which are pre-packaged with supplies for congregations of 50, 100 or 250 members. Request your kit or materials today! 

Share Information on Donation with Members

Share bulletin inserts, available by request. Please contact us.

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Share Information on Social Media

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Have a Conversation About Donation

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Lifeline of Ohio is here to help you support and educate your members.

Information from our community partners

While Lifeline of Ohio does not facilitate these programs, we invite you to learn more from our community partners.

Living Donation

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is the only adult transplant center in Central Ohio, performing more than 10,000 transplants since it was established in 1967.

Learn more about their Living Kidney Donor Program.

Learn more about their comprehensive transplant program.

Whole Body Donation

The gift of whole body donation is facilitated through anatomical gift programs, medical school departments of anatomy, or schools of medicine, not through organ procurement organizations.

Each whole body donation program has their own donation process and oftentimes an individual must pre-arrange an agreement with the program for full body donation to take place. Each program has different requirements and criteria, including whether or not an individual can donate organs, tissues and/or corneas prior to their acceptance into the whole body donation program. Learn more about Whole Body Donation Programs.

Bone Marrow Donation

Learn more at Be The Match

National Kidney Foundation

Want to learn more about keeping your kidneys healthy? Access information from the National Kidney Foundation (NKF). The NKF also provides a Kidney Sundays Toolkit for faith partners.