Why Religious people may have problems with transplant surgery

Transplant surgery is the transfer of an organ or a tissue from one person, where it is not needed, to another person or from one site to another within the same body, where it is required. People may need this as a result of loss of an organ, a missing organ or because of a malfunctioning or diseased organ. For example, if an alcoholic suffered from liver disease and was in a critical situation, liver transplant would be considered from a dead person (as living people need their liver to survive). His diseased liver would then be removed from his body and a healthy liver would be transplanted into him.

Siamese twins may also require transplant surgery, as they may both share the same liver or heart. Siamese twins also cause much debate between religious people, for example Catholic Christians are against Siamese separation bans. A wide range of organs and tissue can be transplanted, such as kidneys, eye corneas, livers, bone marrow and even hearts. It is usually organs that are transplanted; however these organs must be compatible and are sometimes rejected by the body, drugs can then be used to treat this.

The issue of transplantation causes a range of conflict, although it is an effective way of giving life to the hopeless. The conflict occurs within religious branches of the same religion, as there are two types of transplantation, from the dead and from the living, which both have advantages and disadvantages, which may offend different religious and non religious people. Many of these arguments occur between Christians. Most Christians agree with transplant surgery and some also carry donor cards, meaning that their organs can be used after their death, however some have concerns for the issue.

For example some Christians have problems with using organs and tissue from dead people, but accept transplants using organs or tissue from living relatives. They have this attitude because, Christians believe that organs such as the heart are an intrinsic part of the individual who has been created by God. Therefore transplanting organs that are needed by the body to survive can only be taken from the dead, and the heart that God gave to each person has to be taken when the person is living, meaning that they are killing the person, and only Christians believe that only God has the right to take life.

They also believe that transplanting organs from the dead to the living is usurping the role of God, or ‘acting as God’, and Christians believe that humans do not have the right to take God’s role. They agree with taking unneeded organs from the living, as these are not vital and not intrinsic to the human individual. They believe this as Christians believe that it can be used to obey Jesus’ command, love your neighbor. They also disagree with using organs from the dead as they believe that organs cannot be paid for, as that is exploiting the poor, which is banned in the Bible.

Therefore they are against using dead bodies for money. Other Christians have problems purchasing organs and tissue. Some of these Christians also carry donor cards showing that they are not against transplant surgery, however, they would object to people in the developed world paying for organs from the poor. The reasons for this attitude vary, however they believe in transplant surgery, but do not agree with large amounts of money being used. Christians believe in the immortality of the soul, therefore believe that the body is not needed after death, and that accordingly its organs can be used to help the living.

The belief originates from Christians who believe in resurrection, and that Saint Paul’s words, that the body will be transformed and that the resurrection body will not need organs. Jesus told Christians that they should love their neighbor and treat others as they would like to be treated. These both also justify transplants. The main reason for some Christians’ disagreement with paying for organs, is that the Bible has many statements throughout it about not exploiting the poor.

It is also unfair on those in less developed countries, as the price they earn is sometimes not fair and people are forced into selling their relatives’ organs, otherwise they would die of starvation. However other Christians do not agree with transplant surgery at all. These Christians will not carry donor cards. The many reasons for this attitude include, the belief that transplant surgery is ignoring the sanctity of life, that all life is sacred and belongs to God, and that transplanting organs and tissue is usurping God’s role, and that it is wrong to ‘play God’.

They also agree with non-religious arguments against transplant surgery. The non-religious arguments are, that transplant surgery is extremely expensive and requires high level skills for very few people, it also raises the problems when someone is dead, for example heart transplants require the heart to be removed before it has stopped beating, therefore it is extracted while the donor is still living. Emotional and moral problems also arise, the main problem being will the surgeons who have a desperate patient for a transplant work to the best of their ability to save the life of the potential donor?

It also diverts research and resources from prevention or less expensive cures which could improve the lives of many more people than a transplant surgery, which requires money and donors. A trade is caused between the people in the developed and less developed world, where organs may be bought and sold at extremely low prices, which does not support the fair trade rights, where people earn a fair price for items sold.

Christianity is not the only religion that has conflict between different branches of the religion, Islam and Judaism are also involved in the argument. Muslims also have problems with transplant surgery, as they believe this is against God’s will. Accordingly most Muslims are opposed to transplant surgery and will not carry donor cards. They have this attitude because, the Shari’ah teaches that nothing should be removed form the body after death and also opposes post-mortems Consequently organs should not be removed after death.

Therefore most Muslims disagree with transplant surgery using organs from the dead. The Qur’an also says that God has created the body of a person, and so to take parts from one body and insert them into another is to act as God, which is the greatest sin in Islam, called shirk. The Muslin belief of sanctity of life means that all life belongs to God, and only God has the right to take and give life. These Muslims would also agree wit non-religious arguments against transplant surgery.

On the other hand, some Muslims allow transplant surgery if it is from a close living relative. The reasons for this attitude include, that Muslim lawyers have said that it is permissible, a ruling Muslim ‘fatwa’, issued in by the Muslim Law council, in the United Kingdom in 1995, said that Muslims could carry donor cards and have transplants from close living relative donors. Islam is also a religion which does, seeks and aims to do good, and is not intended to place burdens on people which they cannot bear.

If for example a close relative is dying and a transplant would save them, then it should be given, similarly to how pork can be eaten by a Muslim if he would otherwise starve to death. They would also agree with non-religious arguments for transplant surgery, which mainly argue that transplant surgery is a good way to save somebody’s live using unneeded organs. Judaism also has two main attitudes towards transplant surgery, similarly to Islam. Most Jews allow transplant surgery as long as it is from a close living donor.

They have this attitude because, Jews believe that organs such as the heart are an intrinsic part of the individual who has been created by God, organs from non-Jewish people might affect a Jews origination, as being a Jew is passed on through the mothers blood, and transplanting organs from the dead into the living is usurping the role of God, and humans do not have a right to act as God, similar to Christians’ and Muslims’ beliefs. They also believe that organs that can be taken from the living are not vital to the donor, therefore can be used to obey the mitzvah, to preserve life.

The also believe that organs cannot be paid for, as this is exploiting the poor, which is banned in the Torah and Tenakh. Other Jews are opposed to transplant surgery and will not carry donor cards. This I because they believe that transplanting organs from one person to another is against God’s will. They believe this because, they believe that transplanting organs is breaking the mitzvoth, on the sanctity of life, they also believe that the organs have been created by God for a particular individual, and cannot then be put into somebody else, as they are particularly concerned that that transplants may affect Jews’ Jewishness.

They would also agree with all non-religious arguments against transplant surgery. Many similarities and differences are present between these three religions. All of the three religions, Christianity, Islam and Judaism all have groups within the religions against transplant surgery using organs from dead people, and also all allow it if the organs or tissue are from close living relatives. All of the religions also have people who are against transplant surgery at all, refusing to carry donor cards at all. This attitude mainly comes form the belief that transplant surgery is usurping the role of God.

All religions also aim to do good by following the rules of the religion and preserving life, using unneeded organs from close living relatives to help others. Some of these will also not carry donor cards. A main difference is that only Christianity has a group within the religion that allows transplant surgery using organs dead people, where some of these Christians also carry donor cards. Some Christians also believe that the body is not needed after death, however Muslims believe that it is needed and also opposes post-mortems.

Islam is also more social, as lawyers and councils are used to decide on whether something is permissible, for example the ruling fatwa issued by the Muslim Law Council in 1195 decided that Muslims could carry donor cards and have transplants form close living relatives. Christians allow transplant surgery from close living donors as it obeys Jesus’ command, love thy neighbor. Jews allow transplant surgery only from a close living relative as they belief this may affect a Jews origination, as the Jewishness is passed on through the blood of the mother.

Islam’s main reason for only allowing transplant surgery when the organs or tissue used a from a close living relative is because Islam is a religion that seeks to do good, and can change according to a persons circumstances, for example if a Muslim is starving to death pork may be eaten. Overall all of the religions have similar beliefs, apart from Christianity which has an extra group within the religion allowing transplant surgery. The similarities are based upon different thoughts, however they all belief that transplant surgery form dead people is against God’s will and usurping the role of God.

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