EWTN Catholic Q&A
Question from Anonymous on 11-16-2013:

It seems that there really is no way for a vital organ to be donated by a truly dead person. If you personally needed a transplant of a vital organ (such as a heart or lungs) would you accept it?

Answer by Judie Brown on 11-18-2013:

Dear Anonymous

I would not personally accept a transplant of an organ without which the body could not function.

There is an excellent article on the Catholic teaching on organ donation which you might want to read.

It states in part:

It is not true that the international scientific community is unanimously favorable to the current "neurological" criteria which results in a conclusion of "brain death." In fact, this recent concept was introduced to make possible the removal of organs from those finding themselves in a cerebral coma. But, as we shall cite, many scientists and professors have published their research and reported their results in authoritative scientific and medical journals. In these reports, they have stated their disapproval of the "brain death" concept because it does not coincide with total and irreversible cessation of brain activity; for these workers, it is not scientific and is not verifiable as true death. [See "'Brain Death' Is False," TheAngelus, March, 2000, pp.38-40-.Ed.]

Moreover, the Pope said that organ removal ought to be carried out on cadavers, and that only some tissues can be harvested from the truly dead, such as corneas, while living organs such as the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, etc., in order to be transplantable must be taken from persons proclaimed "brain dead," who still breathe (and who also can be proclaimed "brain dead" while on artificial respiration), who have beating hearts, blood circulation, who are warm and have color, who when stimulated move (called "the Lazarus sign"), and, if female, can be lead through a pregnancy to give birth to a healthy child, etc. (It is quite anomalous to consider these persons dead, when no one would have the courage to put someone who is breathing into a coffin, and who has a beating heart and a pulse!)

It is evident that such persons are not cadavers, and that it is possible to remove organs only from real corpses who are already in a state of decomposition, and that such corpses are unable to be used for organ harvesting for transplant.

For the entire article see http://catholicapologetics.info/morality/medicalethics/organ.htm

Judie Brown