Message comes during ‘Donate Life Month’
By EGP News Service
The auxiliary bishop of the Los Angeles Archdioceses, Gabino Zavala is urging Catholics to sign up to become organ and tissue donors as part of a media campaign airing in Los Angeles during April as part of “Donate Life Month.”
Donate Life Month aims to bring attention to the critical need for organ and tissue donors, and particularly among Latinos who donate at a lower rate than other groups.
“I want to remind you that organ donation is an act of love,” Zavala states in the new PSA. “Donation is an act of goodwill that follows Christ’s commandment of loving one another,” he adds, clarifying the Church’s position on organ donation. “Catholics believe in the resurrection of the body on the last day, but this does not depend on it being buried whole,” he explains.
Although it might come as a surprise to some, the Catholic Church has been a strong supporter of donation as a life-saving practice. Even Pope Benedict XVI was a registered donor before he became Pope.
In 1999, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger told a Catholic newswire service, “To be an organ donor means to carry out an act of love toward someone in need, toward a brother in difficulty. It is a free act of love, of availability, that every person of goodwill can do at any time and for any brother. As for myself, I have agreed to give my organs to whomever might be in need.”
The late Pope John Paul II also expressed his support for donation in his Encyclical, “The Gospel of Life.” In it, he stated: “There is an everyday heroism, made up of gestures of sharing, big or small, which build up an authentic culture of life. A particularly praiseworthy example of such gestures is the donation of organs, performed in an ethically acceptable manner, with a view to offering a chance of health and even of life itself to the sick who sometimes have no other hope.”
Zavala’s public support for organ and tissue donation comes at a time when the need for organ donations is bigger than ever. More than 106,000 people are on the National Organ Transplant Waiting List, and of them, 20,000 are residents of California, patients who are waiting to receive life-saving hearts, kidneys, livers, lungs, and other organs.
Last year, 1,392 people donated organs in the state, not nearly enough to meet the need in California, let alone nationwide. A reported one third of patients on the waiting list will die before they receive a transplant.
The PSAs are sponsored by Donate Life California, a nonprofit organ and tissue donor registry serving the state. Zavala also supported initiatives headed by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and Claremont Graduate University in partnership with OneLegacy, to bring organ and tissue education to Hispanic parishes in his area.
Those wishing to make the commitment to donate may register at the DMV when applying or renewing a driver’s license or ID. They can also register online at www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org or its Spanish-language counterpart, www.doneVIDAcalifornia.org