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Religious Perspective

Organ Transplants are the only hope for people with organ failure.

Some people are not sure whether their religion would prevent them from agreeing to donate their organs after death – yet all the major religions in the India support the principles of organ donation and transplantation.

Buddhism and organ donation

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
The Monk with Dysentery
Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Christianity and organ donation

Sacrifice and helping others are key themes across all forms of Christianity, and therefore a decision to donate organs is seen as a positive thing.

Christians are encouraged to help others in need. They look upon organ donation as an act of love, and a way of following Jesus' example.

All mainstream Protestant denominations support organ donation, whether they see it as an individual choice motivated by compassion, or encourage it as an act of charity. The Vatican strongly supports organ donation. Pope John Paul II, in an address to the participants of the Society for Organ Sharing, said:

With the advent of organ transplantation, which began with blood transfusion, man has found a way to give of himself, of his blood and of his body, so that others may continue to live. Pope John Paul II

Eastern Orthodox Christianity, most Pentecostal and evangelical churches also support organ donation, as do the Amish.

Sacrifice and helping others are consistent themes in Christianity, which teaches the principle of seeking for others what you hope others would do for you. Enabling life to be lived as fully as possible is consistent with the teaching of the Son of God, Jesus Christ:
...freely you have received, freely give
Matthew, chapter 10:8

Hinduism and organ donation

The Hindu understanding of organ transplantation requires first an understanding of two important concepts: Moksha and Dharma.
  • The Moksha refers to the liberation of the atman (the eternal self or soul) from the continuous cycle of lifetimes known as the samsara.
  • The Eternal Dharma refers to a cosmic order of the universe that is translated into a social structure with prescribed duties and expectations.
In organ donation, Hindu beliefs informed by moksha priorities-about the eternity of the atman, about the body being only the physical trappings of the atman in this life create no obstacle to organ donation. Although an extreme moksha perspective might encourage such attitudes, beliefs informed by Dharma priorities work in the opposite direction. Dharma places a great emphasis on altruism and generosity, because it is by honoring and enhancing the present life-both one's own and those of others-that the cosmic and social order is maintained. To donate in an attitude of compassion for the sick, and to receive the donation in an attitude of hope for better health is, together, to promote the Dharma of this world. In other words, moksha priorities create no obstacle to organ donation, but it is the Dharma priorities that make it a noble undertaking. Furthermore, Hindu myths and writings also convey stories about body parts being used to benefit others, and thus can be paradigmatic for illustrating and encouraging the altruism that enables organ donation.

Daan is the original word in Sanskrit for donation meaning selfless giving. In the list of the ten Niyamas (virtuous acts) Daan comes third.

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.

...it is said that the soul is invisible...knowing this you should not grieve for the body.
Bhagavad Gita, chapter 2:25

Islam and organ donation

Normally, violating the human body, whether living or dead, is forbidden in Islam – but it is also believed that this can be overruled when saving another person’s life.

However there are also a significant number of Muslim scholars who believe that organ donation is not permissible and hold the view that this does not fall under the criteria of the Islamic principle of al-darurat tubih al-mahzurat (necessities overrule prohibition) due to other overriding Islamic principles.

Both viewpoints take their evidence from the Qur’an and the Ahaadith and therefore individual Muslims should make a decision according to their understanding of the Shariah or seek advice from their local Imam or scholar.

Whosoever saves the life of one person it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.
Holy Qur’an, chapter 5:32

Sikhism and organ donation

Sikhism preaches the art of living and inculcates desire for purposeful dying. Sikhism is a spiritual form of staunch humanism, which is evident from the teachings of the scriptures and lives of the Sikh Gurus.

It preaches, practices and stands for oneness of God and oneness of mankind, and condones no discrimination between gender, religion, caste or creed. The founder of Sikhism, Shri Guru Nanak, has said, “He (God) is the life within all the lives, and is pervading in all the hearts “. Sikh philosophy and teachings place great emphasis on the importance of giving and putting others before oneself.

It also stresses the importance of performing noble deeds and there are many examples of selfless giving and sacrifice in Sikh teachings by the ten Gurus and other Sikhs. Sikhs believe life after death is a continuous cycle of rebirth but the physical body is not needed in this cycle – a person’s soul is their real essence.

The dead sustain their bond with the living through virtuous deed.
Shri Guru Nanak, Guru Granth Sahib, p 143

Acknowledgements: The above information has been sourced from NHS-UK Website, sikhphilosophy.net,www.raodtaac.com – Hinduism & Organ Donation by Mrs.Zareena Muzammil, www.bbc.co.uk – Christianity & Organ Donation,


"Letting my daughter go was the most difficult decision that I have had to take. But what gives me the strength to go on is the fact that she continues to live in the hearts and lives of the people whom she had helped," said Mr. Bharech, who decided to donate Harshita's organs.



"My wife had expressed her desire to donate her eyes and organs. According to her will, we gave our consent for organ retrieval,"said Mr. Menon whose wife gave a new life to five people by way of organ donation. He continues that his wife has given the best gift to humanity by donating her organs!



"I want my son to live forever. We are glad our son can help someone even in his death" were the words spoken by Mr. Pradeep who donated the eyes of his 6 year old son Mohit who died in a road accident.


"Life after death is possible only by 'Organ Donation'. One can live after his death, or can see his beloved ones living after their death by organ donation. This simply requires decision for organ donation at right time and at right place. It is truest gift of life." - Mrs. Preeti Unhale who underwent a heart transplant in 2001.


"I felt elated at the prospect of receiving a new kidney and a new life." - Anupam Gokhale who under went a kidney transplant operation


"Today I am alive because a family decided to grant me life by donating organs of their near ones. By doing so, God alone knows what a great deed they have done." - Mrs. Anita Malhotra, a kidney transplant recipient


"Organ Donation is a gift from one family to the other. It is a contribution to the society from which we are getting so much." - Mr. Mahabir Singh who underwent a heart transplant.

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