Bishop encourages Christians to consider organ donation

By staff writers
January 10, 2008

The Anglican Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Rev Dr Tom Butler, has encouraged Christians to give serious thought to the responsibility to donate their organs to others upon their death.

Medical professionals say that it is necessary to continue to remind people about the need for such donations, which can play a critical role in life-saving procedures for people facing varieties of organ failure.

It is a way, they say, of "giving life" and "passing on life" to others, beyond the limits of human physical existence - something which many Christians and other faith communities have affirmed, in spite of traditional taboos. Humanists have also played a big part in the ongoing campaign.

Dr Butler declared: "Giving oneself and one's possessions voluntarily for the wellbeing of others and without compulsion is a Christian duty."

The later comment on choice is aime at those who have rushed to accuse the bishop of putting people under pressure. They have included Conservative MP Peter Luff, who according to the London Lite newspaper believes Bishop Butler to be suggesting that it is "sinful" not to donate organs - something he has not said.

Dr Butler says that organ donation is a "very striking practical example" of the Christian principle of love for neighbour as self and putting others first.

He comments: "The Christian tradition affirms the God-given value of human bodily life and the principle of putting the needs of others before one's own needs."

Advocates of voluntary organ donation also point out that it can play a role in quelling the unpleasant global trade in organs, which preys upon poor people in the developing world - an injustice which human rights and church organisations have campaigned against vigorously.

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