What about heart transplants?

by Sue Widemark

OK, here's something to ponder.

Hearts for a heart transplant must be harvested from a living person.  The way it usually happens is that doctors give the prospective donor a few tests, declare the person 'brain dead' and then ask for permission to yank the heart out.  Grieving family members often give their permission because they feel it's the right thing.

But there are some problems with this, one of which is that the tests cannot tell us for sure that the person is braindead.  Another problem is that even a brain dead person is STILL LIVING.  And harvesting an organ from a STILL LIVING person is an attack against the sanctity of life, in Catholic thought.

 To say *I* wouldn't want a heart transplant is no problem.. I've already instructed my family that NO WAY are they to give me a heart transplant (unless they discover a way to harvest the heart from a dead person!).

But where it's hard is if my HUSBAND needed a heart transplant.  He and I have been married for 38 years, he is the love of the my life. I know if God selects him to go to Heaven first, it will totally break my heart.  I know that without him, I will find it rather difficult to find any happiness at all here on earth.  So what do I do if HE needs a heart transplant - refuse it knowing I've just blown away maybe five more years or so with him?

I don't know the answer to this.  My prayer is that they can find a way to harvest a heart from a dead person or that God will give me the strength to do the right thing.   It's when the going gets rough, when a virtuous decision is made in total agony, THIS is what a commitment to Jesus is all about.

If our job is to say "YES" to Jesus' offer of salvation then we must say (as Mary did at the Annunciation), UNCONDITIONALLY "yes" and not a "YES BUT..."  We must all pray for strength to follow through.
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