Pope Heralds Organ Donation As a “Genuine Act of Love”

New York, NY
September 1 , 2000

Organ donation has long been heralded as the ultimate act of charity. Often touted as “the gift of life,” the practice is permitted and even encouraged by the major religions of the world. Organ donation received extra backing yesterday, at the International Congress of the Transplantation Society in Rome, where the Pope shared his feelings about the subject.

Speaking to an audience of thousands of transplant professionals from over 65 countries, the Pope called transplants “a great step forward in science’s service of man.” “Every organ transplant has its source in a decision of great ethical value— the decision to offer without reward, a part of one’s own body for the health and well being of another person,” he continued, citing his Address to the Participants in a Congress on Organ Transplants. Noting the “nobility of the gesture,” the Pope went on to describe organ donation as a “genuine act of love.” “It is not just a matter of giving away something that belongs to us,” he said “ but of giving something of ourselves.”

The Pope’s address is available in its entirety exclusively on the National Kidney Foundation Web site. It can be viewed by logging on to:

http://cnserver0.nkf.med.ualberta.ca/misc/Rome/Encyclical.htm

The Pope’s endorsement of organ donation gives hope to the more than 70,000 Americans whose only hope for survival is a new heart, kidney, liver or pair of lungs. More than 2,000 people are added to the national transplant waiting list every month, and each day, 16 people die while waiting for an organ to become available.

In his address, the pope also spoke about xenotransplantation, the transplantation of an organ, tissue or cells from one species to another, a new source of organs for those in critical need of a transplant. A 1998 survey conducted by the National Kidney Foundation found that nearly all Americans (94%) are aware of the shortage of organs available for transplantation and most (62%) accept xenotransplantation as a viable option.

To learn more about organ donation, or for a free Uniform Donor Card, call the National Kidney Foundation at (800) 622-9010.

The National Kidney Foundation is the nation’s leading voluntary health agency dedicated to preventing kidney and urinary tract diseases, improving the health and well-being of individuals and families affected by these diseases, and increasing the availability of all organs for transplantation.