EWTN Catholic Q&A
why haven't we heard more precisely
Question from Anonymous on 01-05-2013:

In a column by Dr. Paul A. Byrne "The Holy Father makes a critical restriction on the removal of organs in light of "the unique dignity of the human person" stipulating that 'vital organs which occur singly in the body can be removed only after death, that is, from the body of someone who is certainly dead.' (4) He goes on to add that 'the requirement is self evident, since to act otherwise would mean intentionally to cause the death of the donor in disposing of his organs.' (4)"

"For vital organs to be suitable for transplantation, however, they must be living organs removed from living human beings. Moreover, as noted above, persons condemned to death as "brain dead" are not 'certainly dead' but, to the contrary, are certainly alive."

My question is, has the Pontifical Academy of Life taken this up with the Holy Father so that he can precisely give us a direct teaching on not donating or receiving transplants of single vital organs at this time since there is no way for a person to be dead and donate or receive a vital organ?

Answer by Judie Brown on 01-10-2013:

Dear Anonymous

Dr Byrne, along with many of those on the Pontifical Academy for Life, have worked hard to get a definitive teaching from the Catholic Church on vital organ donation, and so far the best we can do is the teaching in the Catechism of the Catholic Church which is this:

2296 Organ transplants are in conformity with the moral law if the physical and psychological dangers and risks to the donor are proportionate to the good sought for the recipient. Organ donation after death is a noble and meritorious act and is to be encouraged as a expression of generous solidarity. It is not morally acceptable if the donor or his proxy has not given explicit consent. Moreover, it is not morally admissible to bring about the disabling mutilation or death of a human being, even in order to delay the death of other persons.

Note it states AFTER DEATH. The Catechism then goes on to explain what is NOT acceptable. I think this is very clear but as you suggest it is rarely taught in this manner.

Judie Brown