Pope urges caution on medical transplants

 Pope Benedict has called for a new consensus on defining the moment of death and urged caution in removing organs for transplant from dying donors who might not actually yet be dead.

Addressing a meeting of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Pope Benedict also condemned the trade in human organs as an "abomination".

He said that the worldwide illegal organ trade often made victims of innocent people, including children. Buying and selling of human organs is a lucrative business for suppliers and countries that allow foreign 'transplant tourists' to have operations they cannot get at home. Organs are often bought from poor peasants and sometimes harvested from condemned prisoners.

"Abuses in transplantation and organ trafficking, which often hit innocent people such as children ... should be decisively condemned as abominations," he said.

The Holy Father called legal organ donation an "act of love" and said there were long waiting lists for vital organs to save lives.

Science has helped determine the exact moment of death, Pope Benedict said. While noting "new progress in the determination of the death of a patient", he said: "in an area like this there cannot be the slightest hint of arbitrariness."

Pope Benedict called on the scientific community to find a new consensus to define when someone's life ends.

"Where there is not yet certainty, caution should prevail."

Source: VIS

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