THE Christian imperative to be generous "applies just as much to
the blood that flows in our veins, and the organs that are such an
intrinsic part of our bodies" as to our time and money, the Bishop
of Carlisle, the Rt Revd James Newcome, said on Monday.
He was speaking to launch the "fleshandblood" campaign, a
two-year initiative between the NHS and Churches, including the
Church of England, designed to encourage Christians to donate blood
and join the organ-donor register. The Methodist Church, United
Reformed Church, and Baptist Union, and others have all signed up,
alongside the C of E.
Bishop Newcome, who is the lead bishop on health care, said that
Christians "have a mandate to heal, motivated by compassion, mercy,
knowledge and ability. Extending our understanding of the central
Christian theme of generosity and stewardship to include blood and
organ donation has the potential to tangibly transform the giver
and the receiver."
The NHS estimates that an extra 225,000 blood donors are needed
to meet demand, and reports that 1000 people die each year, waiting
for a transplant. Also, the number of people dying in circumstances
where they are able to donate their organs is falling.
In the autumn, the C of E Mission and Public Affairs Council, in
a submission to the NHS Blood and Transplant consultation on organ
donation, anticipated Bishop Newcome's sentiments, but opposed a
shift to an "opt-out" system of donation as a "major intrusive
shift in the state's relationship with its citizens" (
News, 2 November).
In 2011, Dr David W. Evans, a retired consultant in cardiology,
and the Revd Dr Michael Banner, Dean of Trinity College, Cambridge,
expressed concern that donors might not be aware that they would
still have a heartbeat and be breathing with the aid of a
ventilator when their organs were removed: "a state very different
from death as they may have envisaged it" (
Letters, 18 May 2011). These concerns were echoed in another
letter from Dr David Hill, a retired consultant anaesthetist.
On Tuesday, a spokesman at Church House, said: "Having made
diligent enquiries among properly qualified medical personnel who
are members of the Church, we are satisfied that Dr Evans's views
are not those of the great majority of practitioners, including
those who are committed Christians."
NHS guidance for potential donors states that "organs are only
removed for transplantation after a person has died. . . Death is
confirmed in exactly the same way for people who donate organs as
for those who do not."
Question of the Week: Do you agree that blood and organ
donation is a Christian duty?