“You can't stir up fears”

"There's a lifesaver in everyone," German pharmacists are currently advertising: organ donation is once again under discussion. In an interview with our site, Frankfurt moral theologian Josef Schuster explains the church's position and its unease against an objection solution.



Interviewer: Would you like it if in the future it were stated on your identity card or driver's license that you are an organ donor??

Schuster: I would find that quite reasonable. However, always with the possibility that one can also delete such an entry. Because there are fears. When someone is asked if they are a donor and that is then noted accordingly, they surely also want to know if that – if they change their mind – can also be deleted and not remain there for time and eternity. This is a very important point of view. With all the regulations that are being considered, one thing must be kept in mind: one must not stir up fears. There are still enough fears in these matters. And it would be counterproductive to envisage any regulation that would produce additional fears. This must be considered in every arrangement.
Interviewer: Opposed to this is the so-called contradiction solution. It provides that all are automatically organ donors who have not objected during their lifetime. What do you think of this approach?

cobbler: I do not think much of this approach, because it stirs up fears. I think much more of a regulation where everyone is asked once in their life if they are willing to donate organs. With the proviso that he may also revise his opinion again. I think that makes sense. Also from the point of view that everybody then has to ask himself this question seriously for once. It's interesting, after all, that about 75 to 80 percent of the population is in favor of organ donation, and only between 15 and 25 percent have any identification at all. This discrepancy can be bridged by bringing a little more commitment to the questioning into play.
Interviewer: Is the topic of organ donation really burdened with so much fear or is it not simply convenience??

cobbler: There are several reasons. And one reason is uninformedness. But one is still that people have fears: that they will be declared dead too soon; that if they are seen as possible organ donors, not everything will be done to preserve their life. These fears exist.
Interviewer: Why is organ donation important from a Christian or moral theological perspective?

Schuster: The German bishops once declared – at that time still united with the Protestant Church in Germany – that organ donation was an act of charity. However, such an act, which can not be demanded. This is not something where someone else would have a legal claim to it, but this is a gift. Personally, I say, what better can happen to my dead body than that some of its organs should help other people to live on better?. That sounds quite unheroic – and it is.

The interview was conducted by Christian Schlegel.

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