MetaPagan started this conversation on Pagans and organ donation. They want to ferret out how we individual Pagans feel about organ donation.
At 18, when I got my drivers license, I signed the form to be an organ donor. My thoughts at the time were pretty much the same as everyone else’s: I’m not using them when I’m dead so someone else should.
There was even a point when I called one of the Boston hospitals and tried to just give a kidney away (they wouldn’t take it) and when Matt, my ex, and I got in a huge fight about it. He didn’t want his organs donated because he felt his Jewish faith prohibited it (does the Jewish faith prohibit organ donation? What about organ receipt?) and I told him I would donate his organs anyways (although I really couldn’t because we weren’t married to one another).
But as the years have gone on I’ve done a 180* on the subject. I don’t want my organs donated. I want them to be cremated along with me. Why? For two primary reasons.
First, because the medical community has overstepped its bounds.
I worked in health care for over a decade and came to realize the general idea in health care is if someone dies that person failed. They failed to fight hard enough. They didn’t want to live. They gave up.
The doctor failed. S/he didn’t fight hard enough. They didn’t care about their patient. They gave up.
Americans fear death. But I don’t.
Second, I believe in a quality of life, not quantity. Recipients of donated organs do not have quality of life, they have quantity. Their lives are ruled by medications, tests, prohibitions, of restricted activities and thoughts of “what if.” They are alive but not alive. I have never met a recipient who was overjoyed to be alive well after the surgery took place (I’ve met them shortly after when they were elated but after some time that elation wares off).
It seems to me many of the organ recipients do it for others: their wives, husbands, children. And parents do it because they cannot bear to lose their children. I understand those sentiments. I empathize with them. But I don’t agree with them.
Death is the end of life and we shouldn’t be fighting against it like we do. Billions of dollars are spent keeping people alive who should have died. I know this makes me sound cold and callous but I’m not. I’m just being bluntly honest and open about my feelings on organ donation and how I feel it’s unnatural and inappropriate. We die. We’re supposed to. To try and eliminate death is not a worthy goal. Death brings life but not in the organ donation sense.
Edited to add:
It occurred to me earlier I didn’t really respond to the question from a Pagan perspective, rather, I responded from a socio-economic perspective. So I’m going to try again.
Paganism is the worship of Mother Earth. She gestates and births us, nourishes us, provides us with all we need to live our lives: food, water, other humans for companionship and procreation. From her depths comes the medicines we need to cure curable ailments.
Volcanoes, tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, plagues, famine all work to maintain the delicate balance Mother Earth needs. During these trying times, lives end: human, plant, animal, and everything in between.
And lives end even on the sunniest, warmest days of gentle breezes.
Organisms are born and die. It’s the way of our planet, of our Mother. No plant, animal, or human can live forever. To negate death, or even attempt to, is fruitless and a little arrogant. Who are we to think we can overcome death? Who are we to “cheat” death, to remove ourselves from a “death grip”, to extract ourselves from “the jaws of death?”
To put an organ from one individual to another is one person’s — or a team persons — attempt to supersede and “cheat” death. The end will come and I don’t see any reason to fight it.
If every organism lived forever we would be living on one very crowded planet.
We fear death and I don’t know why. It’s the natural end to life. Some deaths come quickly some slowly. Certainly I think it’s appropriate to comfort the dying, to help them through the Veil and to make the transition as painless as possible. But to try and harvest organs from an individual to put into another desecrates both bodies: the one who will have their organs removed and the one who will have foreign organs placed into it.
If organ donation was really the answer to illness, one wouldn’t need so many pharmaceuticals and other interventions to make the process work easier. But it’s not. It throws of the balance of the recipient’s body just as it throws of Mother Earth’s balance.
I may add more to this when I feel up to it. My balance is off.