You’ve probably heard that organ, eye and tissue donation is a generous act supported by all major religions in the United States, but what does Buddhism say about organ donation? In this edition of Donation Essentials, we break it down for you.
Organ and Tissue Donation: An Act of Compassion that Saves Lives
Deceased organ and tissue donation saves and heals thousands of lives every year and is a generous act supported by all major religions in the United States, including Buddhism. To give you an idea of the lifesaving impact, last year in our regions last (and despite the pandemic), 622 people received lifesaving organ transplants thanks to a record 215 organ donors. In addition 1,899 heroic, local tissue donors provided lifesaving and healing tissue to thousands in need.
In general, Buddhists believe that organ and tissue donation is a matter of individual conscience and place high value on acts of compassion. Reverend Gyomay Masao Kubose, president and founder of the Buddhist Temple of Chicago stated,
“We honor those people who donate their bodies and organs to the advancement of medical science and to saving lives.”
Can Buddhists Donate Organs and Tissues?
Yes. There are no rules in Buddhism for or against organ donation. In Buddhism, the decision to donate organs and tissues relies on the individual’s decision and the importance of letting loved ones know your decision is stressed. Given that relieving suffering is central to Buddhism, donating to help those in need could be considered an act of compassion and generosity. While there are many different Buddhist traditions, organ donation is viewed as an individual choice.
Respecting and Caring for the Deceased
Traditional funeral and burial services are important to all faith communities and Buddhism is no different. For Buddhists, the death process is an important time that should be treated with care and respect. At Donor Alliance, the federally-designated, non-profit organ procurement organization serving Colorado and most of Wyoming, deceased donors are treated with the utmost respect and dignity throughout the entire donation process. When someone’s organs and/or tissues are eligible to be donated, a team of specialist surgeons will carry out the process showing respect during the recovery process by caring for the donor in a way that still allows a traditional open casket funeral.
Why Buddhists should Consider Organ and Tissue Donation After Death?
The need for an organ transplant can affect any of us at any given moment. Today, the person in need of a lifesaving and healing transplant could be a stranger, but tomorrow it could be a loved one or even yourself. And the numbers don’t lie; nationally there are over 100,000 people, and nearly 2,000 in our region, waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant, many of whom identify as Buddhists. Making the decision to discuss organ donation with your religious leaders and loved ones, and signing up to be an organ and tissue donor after death brings hope to those waiting and saves lives. Learn how you can share your lifesaving decision with your Faith community.
Sign Up As a Donor and Give the Gift of Life
Now that you know organ and tissue donation is one of the greatest acts of love and compassion you can perform, take the time to learn the facts about donation and sign up as a donor today. Have friends and family who practice Buddhism? Please consider sharing this article with them. Let’s continue to spread the facts about donation and transplantation within our neighborhoods and faith communities.