Is it OK to donate a kidney?

Are your kidneys available to me? - First in a series

The About (home) page of Biotech blog begins with a question: Is it OK to donate a kidney?

If you are asked to donate one of yours, would you? Humans have two kidneys and it is possible to live with one.

How would you advise your friend or family member? What does God think about kidney donation?

Medical authorities state there is a vast and crying need for donations. Why wouldn’t you donate?

About four years ago I wrote a blog series that I later converted to an ebook, Flesh & Bone & The Protestant Conscience (on Amazon now) and in pdf form on this site. In it I explored many of today’s biomedical practices such as organ donation as they relate to Christian ethics.

One purpose of the ebook’s title was to provoke any with Protestant roots or orientation to think about these issues from the perspective of God’s Word. Many Catholics today also read God’s Word but their doctrines and opinions still are guided by church tradition and hierarchy, whereas the Protestant is free to draw conclusions based solely on the revealed Word of God.

Because transplanting kidneys from living donors is commonplace and accepted, it seems a little late to ask: Is it right for a society to permit kidney donation? Nevertheless we will attempt to answer that question in this series. In the ebook (revised and updated in 2019) there is more discussion on live and dead donors which is an aspect of the ethical framework, but here we will focus on the live donor.

This more intensive look into kidney donation than is in the ebook, is to help clear up any fuzzy thinking. Perhaps it may help you to form an opinion. You never know when you may be asked to be a donor, and if you have signed your driver’s license, you already are a prospective one.

In preparing for this series I have enjoyed reading articles by and about those who confront this issue daily or have a vested interest in it. One, anthropologist Nancy Scheper-Hughes, has traveled broadly to discover the occurrences of kidney donation by living donors.

Nancy Scheper-Hughes with patient

The photo (a screenshot from the referenced webpage) shows her interviewing a man from Brazil who donated a kidney to a woman from Brooklyn. She found that “human organs and tissue generally moved from south to north, from the poor to the rich, and from brown-skinned to lighter-skinned people.” (ref)

Are today’s medical ethics Christian or pagan? Are Protestant ethics your ethics? In the next post we will look at societal and churches’ views on organ donation.

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...and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind ... the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind ...the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. -Genesis 1

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A SistersSite eBook

Flesh and Bone and The Protestant Conscience is an e-book on Amazon.com. It is 99¢ and in the Amazon lending library as well. It is also available here in PDF format. The book description follows.

Would you let your conscience be your guide?

Does God care if the skin and bone of the dead are passed along to the living for medical uses? Is organ donation OK with God? Should you sign a Living Will?

Did you know that dead organ donors are often anesthetized before their organs are removed? Do you know the current definition of death? The conscience cannot function without facts.

As we ponder the ethics of in vitro fertilization, stem cell research and man-made chimeras, our thoughts trail off. How then should we live? (Ez 33:10)

How should a Christian think about euthanasia by starvation when doctors and the state attorney general all agree it is time to withhold feeding from a brain injured patient? Some things are family matters, but someday it may be our family.

Here is a small book to help you think about whether you want to sign your driver's license, donate a kidney, cremate your loved one, and many other practical questions that may arise in the course of your healthcare decisions or watch over others.

It offers a special focus on the doctrine of the Resurrection that is related to such decisions. Sunday School classes and Bible Study groups could use this book to facilitate discussion about the issues covered.