Ethical Difficulties in Organ Harvesting

This post is about some uncomfortable subjects, and I need to bring in something exceptionally painful to myself.

Many people are organ donors. For me, it is marked on my driver's license. My wife Charlene was uncomfortable with it and refused, but I do not care if I go into eternity hollowed out.

Ethics and morality play a big part in this. No, it is not wrong to be a donor! The problems are when organ harvesters may ignore the policies against abuse, or even hasten the process. Indeed, a few people who have been declared brain dead have recovered.

MRI brain images, Pexels / Anna Shvets
For some people, this part is a repeat of previous information, so I'll keep the background narrative short. When my wife was recovering from a routine surgery, I received a phone call just before midnight. She had a "cardiac event." Actually, it was a heart attack and stroke. The MRI showed massive brain damage and there was no hope of recovery.

But she was not technically brain dead. Mostly, though. There were some basic responses happening that the Creator had built in. After consulting with a couple of her relatives, I gave the order to unhook the respirator. I spent hours with her, praying, talking, crying (like I am now, reliving this awful time), telling her I love her, making jokes, playing music, and so on. The doctors said that any responses such as eye movements were strictly involuntary, but I think some of it registered. My beloved wife Charlene passed away peacefully the next day. I will meet her again; Christians have that certainty.

We had discussed and were in agreement that neither of us wanted heroic measures to keep us going if there was no hope. Interestingly, we were trusting the medical community to know full well what they were doing. If I had wanted to keep her on that respirator, what were the chances they were wrong and she could recover? I really don't think so.

When it comes to organ harvesting in this and other circumstances, there are ethical concerns. Evolutionists have shown that they are willing to push boundaries on embryo research, so why not fudge the data and change definitions for harvesting organs? Christians know that we bear the image of God, and are deserving the best efforts as well as dignity and respect.

On questions of organ donation ethics and the definition of death, the stakes could hardly be higher. Thousands of lives hang in the balance amid a firestorm of controversy fueled by myriad questions. What exactly is death, and how do we know it has happened? Does being “brain-dead” truly mean a person has died? And have organ donation practices been skirting ethical principles, moral mandates, and national laws for the noble cause of saving lives?

Because such questions will only grow more relevant as medical technology advances, everyday Christians need biblical understanding, scientific knowledge, and practical wisdom in response. The following discussion contrasts biblical and secular frameworks for thinking about death definitions and organ donation, outlines key medical facts to consider, and suggests practical responses. To start, a closer look at the scale of these issues’ significance is in order.

To read the rest and so some serious thinking, see "The Unknown Harvest: Organ Donation and the Definition of Death."