A Buddhist perspective on organ donation
Is organ donation permitted in Buddhism?
Organ donation is giving an organ to help someone who needs a transplant.
There are no injunctions in Buddhism for or against organ donation. The death process of an individual is viewed as a very important time that should be treated with the greatest care and respect.
In some traditions, the moment of death is defined according to criteria which differ from those of modern Western medicine, and there are differing views as to the acceptability of organ transplantation.
The needs and wishes of the dying person must not be compromised by the wish to save a life. Each decision will depend on individual circumstances.
Central to Buddhism is a wish to relieve suffering and there may be circumstances where organ donation may be seen as an act of generosity. Where it is truly the wish of the dying person, it would be seen in that light.
Giving is the greatest of Buddhist virtues. The Buddha in a previous life gave his body to a starving tigress who could not feed her cubs. There are many such Jataka tales some in which he even gave his eyes to someone who wanted them. What loss do I suffer to give an unwanted organ after my death to give another person life?
Dr Desmond Biddulph
Chairman of The Buddhist Society
Making a donation is your choice. But it can be seen differently even in the same religious groups. If you have any doubt, get guidance from a senior teacher in your community.
Make sure you talk to your family and friends about your decision so they know your wishes.
Additional information is available to download below.
Buddhist donor cards
If you support organ donation, why not download our Buddhist digital, printable and smartphone wallpaper donor cards?