The first speaker was Revd. Santou Beurklian-Carter, a Chaplain at Whipps Cross and Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospitals.
She said that most Christians would be in favour of blood transfusion, apart from Jehovah’s Witnesses who object to it, as blood for them represents life and should not be passed from person to person. Bloodless surgery is however acceptable to them.
Organ donation again would be supported by most Christian denominations, with whole body donations even being considered by some people, as a means of promoting research and helping fellow human beings.
Organ donation from animals raises ethical issues and animal welfare concerns, so probably would not be acceptable to most Christians.
Khola Hasan, a member of the Islamic Sharia Council and a Sunni Muslim, agreed that blood transfusion and organ donation from living donors is acceptable to most Muslims, so long as the donor is unharmed, as saving life and intellect is very important. Agreement would be needed from the family for organ donation from a dead person, and no commercial gain should be involved.
Transplants from a foetus would be problematic, and only allowed from a dead foetus.
In India there is a place called Kidney Village where kidneys have been sold for 900 dollars and poor people are exploited, so obviously this should never happen. Organ donation is not acceptable for some Muslims who have a belief in the resurrection of the body after the Day of Judgement, so the whole body must be complete.
The third speaker was Rabbi Steven Dansky, from the Redbridge United Synagogue. He declared that for Jewish people the concept of life was paramount and if you are able to save someone, you must do it. However a person’s life should not be put in danger by donating blood or a body organ to save someone else. A heart transplant from someone who is brain dead would be problematic.
A question and answer time then followed. It was noted that ancient texts do not cover such issues, so guidance has to be given to people of faith from their religious leaders.
Whole body donation was acknowledged as being very helpful so long as the body was treated with respect and sensitivity. Transplants from animals are generally not acceptable to Muslims, but blood and organ donations from living people are regarded as acts of charity. So there was a great deal of agreement among the three faith leaders, showing how much we have in common.
The next meeting of the Forum will be held at a synagogue at 8pm on Thursday 21st June when the topic will be ‘Demons and Exorcism’.