Misconceptions Associated with Kidney Donation and Religion


Religion often teaches that you should be kind and charitable to your fellow man. The ultimate act of kindness and the quintessential idea of charity can be culminated in donating a kidney while alive or signing a donor card for your kidneys to be donated upon your death so someone else can live a full life. However, a recent study found that religious people are less likely to be living kidney donors or sign up to be kidney donors after they die when compared to those who are non-religious. So, what is the disconnect and what does that mean for us, the Kidney Community?

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Ironically, religious concerns may be one of the largest factors in why people decide against donating organs in general and kidneys specifically. The issue is certainly further compounded by the fact that a few, if any, patients come forward with their religious concerns. For many, the idea of kidney donation is new and they do not feel comfortable talking about it with their Religious Leaders, Doctors or Family Members. Health professionals, on the other hand, may wish to avoid this sensitive issue altogether or may lack knowledge on religious issues pertaining to transplantation. Both parties may be entirely unaware that all major organized religions approve of organ and kidney donation and consider it a good act of charity.

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Although most Religious Leaders warn against donating your body for scientific research they are whole-heartedly in favor of kidney donation to save the life of another person. KidneyBuzz.com suggests that religious members of the Kidney Community talk to their Religious Leaders and ask them to have an open discussion with his/her Congregation about kidney and organ donation to inform and enlighten their members. Appropriate action may correct misconceptions and likely substantially increase transplant numbers among religious groups.

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Religious concern is an underappreciated obstacle to deceased and live kidney donations. The fact is that many countries are becoming increasingly multicultural and immigrants, who may be highly religious, are likely to retain religious concerns even when abroad. Prospective transplant recipients need to be more aware of religious sensitivities in order to be compelling to donors. In many cases, however, providing information alone will not be sufficient to overcome the concerns of prospective donors and it is also conceivable that prospective donors use religious concerns to conceal their reluctance to donate in the first place. Patients should encourage their Transplant Team and Religious Leaders to correct misunderstandings regarding kidney donation.

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In general there has been broad support for organ donation among most faith communities. KidneyBuzz.com understands that there may be differences of opinion even within any particular religious group.  Each decision to become a donor is a personal one and it is suggested that individuals consult with their faith leaders if they have questions about their religion’s view of kidney donation.

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"Organ Donation Myths and Misconceptions." Donate Life: Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network.  

"Staff Interview."  Donate Life: Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network.  

"Non-religious More Likely to Donate Their Bodies to Science and Organs to Other People." Epiphenom: Non-religious More Likely to Donate Their Bodies to Science and Organs to Other People

Oliver, Michael, Et Al. "Organ Donation, Transplantation and Religion." Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation