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The truth behind
organ donation
& transplants

The truth behind organ donation & transplants

      OrganFacts.net  … Wait for the Lord; take courage and He will give strength to your heart; yes, wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:14)

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… The truth behind organ donation & organ transplants

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The Nasty Side of Organ Transplanting.

Chapter 20

Religion, Culture and Harvesting

A keen feature of transplant agency promotion is their “dispelling the myths” leaflets where they supposedly throw the light of truth on erroneous myths allegedly held by the ignorant, common people. One “myth buster” statement is that all major world religions support organ donation.

Most religions do support the attitude of helping others via personal sacrifice and that may include donating organs. But this view is often based on an ignorance of organ donation processes. The hierarchical structures of many large religions I’ve contacted have yet to formulate their policy or provide clear guidance on this issue. They generally require that donors should be dead and donation made voluntarily, both issues of which the donation agencies gloss over and misrepresent.

Religious recommendations of donating a dead body so others can live rarely equate with harvest and transplant processes. A healthy human letting harvesters remove a healthy kidney and inserting it into the abdomen of a sick person appears the action of a saint, commendable by any religion.

But other facts should be considered. The previously healthy donated kidney will become sickly and probably fail within seven or eight years and the patient want another. Many recipients won’t experience a sparkling new health but will suffer a series of immunosuppression generated illnesses. Their desperation to improve the health level of their carnal lives appears not the sign of someone who believes in life after death, but rather of someone who lacks spiritual faith. Someone desperate to hang on to any sickly state, at any cost, rather than allow their earthly body to perish.

Below are views of some religious groups whose opinions may differ from those attributed to them by organ harvest agencies.

Church of England in Australia

Dr Robert Claxton, representing the Sydney Diocese Secretariat of the Anglican Church, wrote me saying that The Church supports organ transplantation with the Holy Scriptures being the final authority. He added that “All organ/tissue donation therefore must be carried out with due dignity and with full informed consent by the donor (expressed before death) and the family.”[123]

This requirement of full informed consent contrasts with South Australian and other legislation around the world. The strict letter of the law says harvesting approval doesn’t always require donor consent and a bureaucrat can order it with family consent only. If next of kin aren’t contactable within an undefined “reasonable period” a government bureaucrat can decide to harvest without their consent. The crucial clause in much legislation rests on whether the bureaucrat hasn't a reason to believe the deceased would have been against donation. While this draconian rule is rarely put into practice it would clearly conflict with Church of England policy as interpreted by Dr Claxton. As for his view that consent for harvesting should be obtained from the family of those signing donor forms, this has been overturned by all Australian State governments in 2005. Harvesters no longer need to or seek consent from families. In 2007 Dr Claxton no longer represents the Sydney Diocese Secretariat in this capacity and referred me to Andrew Ford who wrote, “At this time there is no official policy on this matter, however this doesn't mean that we are uninterested in this type of issues.”

The reader can test public understanding of transplant procedures by discussing the issues of this book with prospective donors to discover if they are fully informed about the processes.

Catholic Church

His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, said in his address to the International Conference of the Transplantation Society, on 29 August 2000, that organ transplants which save lives are a good act. The Pope also said that the declaration of “brain death” must involve “the complete and irreversible cessation of all brain activity (in the cerebrum, cerebellum and brain stem)”[124]

Australian harvesting practice contravenes the Pope’s guidelines because it doesn’t require electroencephalograph (EEG) testing to ensure the donor’s cerebral electrical activity has stopped. Australian practice approves harvesting regardless of brain electrical activity. Queensland Right to Life says,

“The Catholic Church and most other denominations do support organ donation from the bodies of those who have had complete and irreversible cessation of all brain function, which is the legal standard for “brain death” in Australia. However, most Australian units do not meet the legal standard. The Australian practice is to use the clinical criteria alone which means that in about 50% of Australian diagnoses of “brain death” some brain activity still occurs. This is much more liberal than standards in Europe which generally require ancillary testing to establish that all brain function has ceased. Thus the Australian practice is not approved by the Catholic Church.”[125]

Pope John Paul II also said,

“…any procedure which tends to commercialise human organs or to consider them as items of exchange or trade must be considered morally unacceptable, because to use the body as an “object” is to violate the dignity of the human person”[126]

Kidneys and corneas aren’t sold in Australia or in most “developed” countries but governments are open about the financial benefits of these procedures. It is cheaper to transplant a kidney and supply drugs than provide long-term dialysis. It is cheaper to transplant a cornea than provide home care for a blind or semi-blind old person. It could be reasonably assumed that these transplants are not only acts of mercy but also performed for financial reasons. As for bones, skin, tendons and other body parts, they are clearly commercial products.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses

The Jehovah’s Witness faith forbids the taking in of blood but not bodily tissue. If an organ is cleansed of blood and no transfusion is performed during surgery then accepting a transplant organ would meet their standards.

Donating an organ would require the same avoidance of transfusions during the excision process. This might require a ruling by their experts in the case of “brain dead” Witness donors receiving transfusions during the donation process. Would the “brain dead” Witness be really dead or not?

Storing blood for later use is also taboo in the Witness faith, however, collecting a patient’s blood during surgery then transfusing it back meets their requirements.

The Jehovah Witnesses have produced a DVD showing how surgical teams can perform major surgery without blood transfusions.[127]

The Eastern Church (Greek Orthodox)

Even the donation agencies are wary of stating that the Greek Orthodox Church supports organ donation. Statistics show countries with large Greek Orthodox congregations have low harvest rates. Their resurrection doctrine, similar to Orthodox Judaism, states the body is resurrected as it is now. The interpretation may differ between the physical and spiritual bodies, but the idea of being buried with parts missing is seen by some as unpleasant at best.

Dimitri Kepreotes, Secretary to Archbishop Stylianos of the Greek Orthodox Church in Australia, wrote to me in 2002 saying that His Eminence is considering the matter and will consult expert medical opinion. But as of 2007 I have been unable to get a clear statement from the Church.


The Buddhist understanding is that life is a continuum. We are not separate entities and any feeling that we are is a delusion that can be removed through quiet meditation. Actions to increase personal wealth or dominance are ego-based and represent a crude understanding of reality. Our death, sooner or later, should not be seen as a disaster, but merely a change of consciousness. Therefore, the somewhat harsh act of removing a donor’s vital organs then using vast resources to fit these organs into other bodies appears an act of ego delusion, which may indicate ignorance of one’s spiritual identity.

Tibetan Buddhism

In the Tibetan Six Yogas of Naropa and Teachings on Mahamudra it is said the dying person experiences the different elements that make up our being dissolve into the vast universe. The element of prana dissolves into the consciousness at the Heart Centre. Then the white Tig Le in the Head Centre descends and the Red Tig Le in the Navel Centre rises and the two join in the Heart. Every human will then see the Light of Death but most will fall back into the Bardo, or astral form, and prepare to be reincarnated.[128]

The above is a simplification of a complex series of psychological and spiritual changes that occur during the process of physical death. According to Buddhist teachings, even after the conscious mind and brain processes have slipped into inertia and apparent death, the spiritual process continues. Buddhist scriptures say clarity of mind is crucial during the dying process as it determines the quality of one’s next incarnation. Practitioners of this path practice meditation throughout their lives to dissipate crudity and delusion and to achieve clarity and retain it during the dying process.

Dying practitioners should be free from anti-psychotic drugs like chlorpromazine that may be injected during organ harvesting. The raising of blood pressure and heart beat as the surgeon’s knife cuts into the donor’s body might dramatically and detrimentally cloud the process of the transformation that we call dying. This would be especially disturbing if an element of consciousness remains within the body during the evisceration process.


In Thailand a “brain dead” person is legally still alive.


In China, a nominally Buddhist culture, there is virtually no voluntary organ donation. The Chinese consider organ “donating” a form of punishment reserved for those guilty for murder and corruption. The government allegedly also keeps a regular store of Falun Gong organ “donors” kept healthy until foreign “organ tourists” arrive with money. No waiting list.[129]

The earlier method was to shoot a healthy “donor” to produce the “brain death” condition. The “donor” was shot in the head when the heart or torso organs were required and in the heart area when eyes were being purchased. Kidneys were removed from one prisoner then he was shot rather than the other way around.[130]But medical progress finally arrived and now they anaesthetise and paralyse the patient then cut out the organs and throw the carcass into the hospital incinerator.[131] Being a donor is synonymous with being a victim or a loser.

Shinto (Japanese)

Shinto has a direct religious doctrine against organ harvesting and transplanting.[132]It is considered spiritually dirty and foul. In 2000 there were six “brain dead” donors in Japan compared to 196 in Australia, which has one-seventh Japan’s population.[133]

Despite being swamped with dialysis patients harvesting is almost non-existent in Japan. The nation has advanced medical technology and allows kidney removal from completely dead donors upon family consent though just eight sets of kidneys were obtained this way in 2000.

Japanese patients become “organ tourists” and travel overseas to buy kidneys and other organs.


Gypsies include a range of peoples originally from India who have lived in the Balkans for centuries. They're a puritanical, travelling people who range though Europe, North America and Australia. “Gypsies have direct religious doctrine against organ donation”[134]

Church of Scientology

Janine Werneburg says that founder, L. Ron Hubbard, states in the books, “Dianetics” and “Clear Body, Clear Mind", that the unconscious mind observes and records everything. Therefore, Janine says, the human subconscious may be experiencing the evisceration process despite severe brain injury or “brain death”. Upon real death the spirit would carry that terror and when reincarnated this would cloud that incarnation until cleansed. The Church allows members to make their own choice.[135]The Church also has a strong policy against psychiatric and mind-altering drugs that may be administered to “brain dead” donors.


The great Swami Yogananda experienced the problems other people have in determining when death has occurred. He went to the United States of America to spread his spiritual teachings. At the height of his success in the early 1950’s he went into sublime Samadhi and entered the traditional suspended animation. All bodily functions stopped yet his body stayed fresh because Samadhi transcends the process of life and death. His American followers at the Self-Realisation Fellowship didn't understand Samadhi. They thought he was dead so they cremated him. The Swami’s more spiritual followers returned from a lecture tour and asked the whereabouts of their spiritual master. They were shown a pot of ashes.

Esoteric Hindu practices bring about a range of varied states of being that aren’t understood or respected by non-practitioners. The idea that death can be determined by the crude testing of reflexes and bodily reactions is seen by many as simplistic and childish.


Islam says body parts shouldn’t be stored which precludes eyes, perhaps kidneys, bones, skin, tendons, fascia, and body hormones from being harvesting. This will depend on their definitions of “storage”.


“Brain death” is not recognised by Orthodox Jews as death of the individual because they believe the heart is the centre of the soul. The heart must stop permanently for death to have occurred. Burial must be as whole as possible and parts of the body removed due to disease or accidents must be properly saved and buried when the person dies. Blood donations aren’t allowed in Orthodox Jewry. During the Arab wars some Jewish soldiers wouldn’t donate blood either as this went against their beliefs.


The Hmong of Laos and the highlands of Vietnam believe one of a person’s three spirits stays with the body. Therefore, it needs to be whole and treated with appropriate respect and rites during the dying process. Their religious beliefs forbid mutilation of the body, “…including autopsies or the removal of organs during an autopsy,” otherwise the soul may be doomed to hell.[136]

Zombie Cult

The Zombie Cult strongholds are in Haiti and West Africa, but indigenous peoples throughout the world are conscious of spirits within and without the human body. The Zombie Cult has two arms, one scientific and one occult. Both involve Bogons − witchdoctors who enthral people around the world with magic spells and spirits. The Pitjantjatjara people of inland Australia have Ngangkari who cleanse the souls of patients whilst in the “dream state”. Feather Men and those who “Point the Bone” also inhabit the worlds of Australian Aboriginals.

Scientific Bogons (Zombie)

The Haitian scientific Bogon is employed by someone who wants zombie slave workers or to rob an enemy of their “soul”. The Bogon secretly administers naturally occurring poisons into the intended victim that create the appearance of death. The Haitian funeral is frequently hurried and the victim buried in a coffin. The Bogon returns and digs up and revives the poisoned victim to a semi-conscious state. The victim often suffers permanent brain damage from the poison and from oxygen deprivation while inside the coffin.

The semi-zombie slave is delivered to the purchaser who adds controlled amounts of poison into the prisoner’s food to maintain the zombie state. Zombies may spend the rest of their lives in this semi-conscious state and occasionally escape though rarely regaining a sense of self.

Occult Bogons

Many Africans around the world believe occult Bogons cast spells to steal peoples' spirits. A person may hire a Bogon to attack an enemy. The victim loses a sense of self, becomes weak and falls prey to the dangers we all face. These include disease, physical attack, family estrangement, mental illness, drugs, suicide, financial ruin, etc. Fear of Bogons is strong in places where bodies are often found with parts missing. Some say it’s the result of attacks by organ robbers while others say it is Hoo Doo bogons stealing their victims’ spirits that reside in certain organs.

When transplant coordinators pressure African-Americans to allow vital organs to be cut from the breathing, pulsing bodies of their relatives, well, it echoes back to the sound of a threatening Bogon chant.

[123] Personal correspondence with the author. Dr Robert Claxton was asked by the Sydney Diocese Secretariat of the Anglican Church to respond to questions put to them.

[124] His Holiness Pope John Paul II, in his address to the International Conference of the Transplantation Society on 29 August, 2000. The full transcript of the Pope’s address is at:


Accessed 4 May 2007

[125] Queensland Right To Life, Personal Correspondence with the author.

[126] His Holiness Pope John Paul II, in his address to the International Conference of the Transplantation Society on 29 August, 2000. The full transcript of the Pope’s address is at:


Accessed 4 May 2007

[127] Transfusion Alternatives.2004. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of New York, 25 Columbia Heights, New York, United States. 2004

[128] Chang, Garma C.C.; The Six Yogas of Naropa and Teaching on Mahamudra, Snow Lion Publications, New York, USA

[129] Matas, David; Kilgour, David. Report into allegations of organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in China. 6 July 2006 

Download their report as a pdf file

Accessed 4 May 2007

[130] Scheper-Hughes, Nancy; Organ Watch at the University of California, Berkeley http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/biotech/organswatch/

Accessed 22 February 2007

[131] Matas, David; Kilgour, David. Report into allegations of organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in China. 6 July 2006 

Download their report as a pdf file

Accessed 4 May 2007

[132] South Australian Organ Donation Agency, Legal and Ethical Aspects, circa 1995, Adelaide South Australia

[133] Japan Organ Transplant Network. http://www.jotnw.or.jp/english/index.html

Accessed 4 May 2007

[134] South Australian Organ Donation Agency, Legal and Ethical Aspects, circa 1995, Adelaide South Australia

[135] Personal communication to the author from Janine Werneberg of the Church of Scientology in Australia

[136] Goodwin, Michele. Black Markets: The supply and demand of body parts. Cambridge University Press, New York, U.S.A. 2006 p132-133 http://www.cambridge.org/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521852803

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