Organ donation and buddhism!

What do EBTs says about organ donation ?! Do we buddhist agrees with the “saves lives after your death” concept ?!

I don’t think the EBTs say anything about organ donation lol - although I could be wrong! I think it is a fantastic idea personally. Why shouldn’t others benefit in some way from a body we are no longer using? And yes, if we make the intention to give these things away in the event of emergency, I think this is probably meritorious.


Apparently there is a jataka on organ donation!

This video from our Sri Lankan temple talks about what the suttas have to say on the issue. (Singhala with English subtitles and cheesy acting)


I don’t think organ transplants were happening in the Buddha’s day, so there wouldn’t be anything in the EBTs regarding such. But it is certainly a wholesome intention to have your corpse put to good use.

I have registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles as an organ donor so that in the event of my death my organs might be useful to someone else. This is a good thing to do, is easy, and everyone should do it. Your corpse is worthless to you but could save someone else’s life, or even multiple peoples’ lives. So I consider registering as an organ donor wholesome but not particularly meritorious or generous.

The real perfectors of generosity regarding organ donation are those who donate organs while they are still alive. My hat is off to them. Personally, I will keep all my viable organs until death in case they come in handy.

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After death seems fine but when is ‘death’ considered to have taken place in the EBTs?

The medical definition of death (in the UK) has changed a couple of times in my lifetime so far.

What about the in-between state? Is it useful for the body to be less traumatised during this stage? Do the EBTs say anything about this?

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Can we count the arahant Bhikkhūnī Subha as an organ donor in Thig14.1 ?

Subha might be my favourite from the therigata.

Plucking out her lovely eye,
with mind unattached
she felt no regret.
“Here, take this eye. It’s yours.”
Straightaway she gave it to him.
Straightaway his passion faded right there,
and he begged her forgiveness.
“Be safe, follower of the holy life.
This sort of thing
won’t happen again.
Harming a person like you
is like embracing a blazing fire,
It’s as if I have seized a poisonous snake.
So may you be safe. Forgive me.”
And freed from there, the nun
went to the excellent Buddha’s presence.
When she saw the mark of his excellent merit,
her eye became
as it was before.


How does that work out ?

That’s a point for consideration ?

That’s addressed in the video in the first reply

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The question is this kind of action not wise and serve no purpose ?

What a consolation but I think not going to happen though .

Did you read the whole sutta?

It was one of the earliest cases of sexual harassment. If she has no attachment to her eyes then why not save the man from creating terrible kamma?


No, my meaning is this kind of thing not encourageble , not in this age. How many person can perform this type of wonder ?
We can choose to call the cops .

Death definition today is determine by the doctors , scientists , specialists. What about by " dhamma definition " ?

Brain death is used as an indicator of legal death in many jurisdictions, but it is defined inconsistently. Various parts of the brain may keep living when others die. For example, although a major medical dictionary says that “brain death” is synonymous with “cerebral death” (death of the cerebrum), the US National Library of Medicine Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) system defines brain death as including the brainstem. The distinctions can be important because, for example, in someone with a dead cerebrum but a living brainstem, the heartbeat and ventilation can continue unaided, whereas in whole-brain death (which includes brain stem death), only life support equipment would keep those functions going. Patients classified as brain-dead can have their organs surgically removed for organ donation.

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Yes. “Brain Dead.” But “Brain Dead” means different things in different countries, so we don’t have a standard (cross border) medical definition of what it means to be dead yet I think.


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It is not without risk.

I took a closer look at that article -
It appears to be ultimately saying that the confusion over the definition was more about how the condition is identified and defined, rather than what it actually is. I.e. -

The major debate further explained the UK position on brainstem death and helped to clarify why the UK and US positions were semantically different but clinically synonymous.

With the 1995 American Academy of Neurology practice parameters, the differences between the UK and USA brain death determination would become much less apparent.

Pallis noted in 1990 ‘to date not a single case seems to have been recorded, in a reputable and widely accessible journal, of a patient with well documented structural brain damage (from trauma or intracranial haemorrhage, for instance) who recovered brainstem function after fulfilling properly applied clinical criteria of brainstem death’

Brain death is taken as legal death, governed by strict legal definitions that need to be fulfilled. However, it has to be discovered and diagnosed by physicians and machines, who are not infallible. That said, I think incorrectly diagnosed cases of brain death would be extremely, extremely, exceptionally rare.

Ultimately, it once again comes down to being informed and making your own individual choice. What do you want for your end of life decisions? As the neurologist above said there has not to date been reliable evidence of a person recovering after fulfilling properly applied clinical criteria of brainstem death. And yet for organ transplants, there is a 90% success rate. One person can save 8 lives through donation. Some donor recipients go on to live 40 years longer than they would have without the donation.

In the absence of any religious textual guidance (given that the idea of defining brain death and achieving organ donation have only be around for the last century or so) we have to take accountability for our own decisions. The most important thing is looking at the evidence, making a clear decision, and then informing your family or loved ones of your wishes (including, if necessary, what your definition of death/brain death is). This ensures that your intentions for the future of your organs are followed, while also easing NOK suffering at what would be, a most distressing time.

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Of course, the reason that we have “brain death” as a definition (be that whole brain or brain stem) is because the old definition (heart stopped) became redundant due to medical advances. Medical science moves at a pace.

After reviewing the available evidence some years ago I opted (and still opt) to hold a donor card. But this is something that maybe should be reviewed often.

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just out of curiosity, why do you say that?

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Perhaps until a new findings available for us to review and to determine of what death is , in the meantime there is a alternative option to consider : Cryonics.

Cryonics is the low-temperature preservation of animals and humans who cannot be sustained by contemporary medicine, with the hope that healing and resuscitation may be possible in the future .

There is a question remains open with regards to the organ donation upon a person death , that is as soon as the person is declared death clinically and legally , while going through the surgical process of removing the organs , is there any functioning consciousness adhere that could be still affecting us ?!

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