Organ Donation and the Resurrection

Q. Do Mormons believe in being organ donors? When we die the spirit leaves and the body is left behind. Must you have a body to continue on your journey or can you donate parts to help someone left on earth?

Great question–I’ve been wondering the same thing since I’ve been reading “Stiff–the Curious Lives of Human Cadavers” for book club this month (we have a kind of quirky book club). The answer is: Yes. Mormons can be organ donors.

The best advice I’ve found on the subject comes from Cecil O. Samuelson, who is the President of BYU, a general authority of the church, and a doctor. He stated:

As is the case with many other scientific developments, there are many questions about organ transplantation that have serious economic, ethical, moral, and religious implications. And, as with many other important aspects of life, we have been counseled to study the information, make decisions, and pray for wisdom about our choices. (See D&C 9:7–9; D&C 58:26–28.)

The Church has taken no official position on organ transplants. It seems obvious, however, that organ transplantation does not affect one’s resurrection, since the organ would soon have returned to the basic elements of the earth following death anyway. Whatever happens to an organ following death, we are promised that “every limb and joint shall be restored to its body, yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost.” (Alma 40:23.)

Since our bodies decompose back into the elements from which they were made in a matter of a few weeks or months (depending upon your burial method–read “Stiff” for lots more information about that), we don’t resurrect from an intact body–rather, we resurrect from the elements that created us, as they gather back together in a perfected form. So whether a person is missing a heart, kidney, liver or lung–everything will be returned and restored to him or her at the time of the resurrection.

So do good with your organs! Spread life around!

This is Elder Samuelson’s entire article on organ donation (just scroll down to the second heading), and this article talks about cremation.