NEW YORK -- It's no secret that organ donations save lives. Whether given through a living donor or obtained via an end-of-life procedure, the act of donating a vital organ to those in need can literally be a gift of life.
However, some New Yorkers are reluctant to become part of this life-saving list, citing religious or moral objections to the practice. While it's important that certain ethical guidelines are considered during the donation process, according to Reverend Skip L’Heureux, executive director of the Queens Federation of Churches, donating an organ is not only morally permissible, it's the right thing to do.
"If there is a way one's body can contribute to extending the vitality and life of someone else, why not do so? We’re on this planet together and we should be moving together as one," said L’Heureux.
Currently, few organized religions outright forbid blood and organ donation. Outside of several groups, which include Christian Scientists and Jehovah's Witnesses, nearly every major faith permits, if not encourages, the donation of organs during life and after natural death has occurred. Although organ donation hasn't developed into a hot-button issue during his ministry, L’Heureux has seen his share of faithful shy away from donation based on what they believe to be religious grounds.
"The biggest impediment to donation is apathy or fear," said L’Heureux. "People recognize the general positive benefits of the practice, but often don’t take the next step and enroll." In some cases, people may claim their religion forbids doing so. L'Heureux, however, believes refusal stems from an underlying fear, rather than any sense of morality.
"People often fear a discomfort [with live donations] or somehow believe they are accelerating death when donating," he said. However, concerns of excruciating pain or an unwanted death are exaggerated and untrue in today's modern donation process. According to L'Heureux, these claims of religious forbiddance almost always serve as a mask for deeper-seeded donation fears.
Currently, over 10,000 New Yorker are awaiting life-saving transplants. In the eyes of L’Heureux and many other religious leaders, registering to donate is a selfless act of charity. "If there's a utility that can help someone else, there is almost no reason not to do so," he said. "What’s a little bit of suffering on one side to relieve the suffering on another?"
To learn more about LiveOnNY and how to become an organ donor, click here.
To register as an organ donor, click here.