Recently we ran an article about organ transplants and afterwards were contacted by a Catholic surgeon, Dr. David E. Hargroder, of Joplin, Missouri, who says he left the field due to concern over the actual state — alive or dead — of those from whom organs were procured.
In many cases, no one but God knows. The heart can be beating or the person breathing artificially, via a ventilator, and the soul departed, for all we know. The medical profession now defines death as “brain death”: when electrical activity ceases, especially in the brain’s stem, which controls the body. That’s when organs are taken.
Faced with a transplant or death, it is a “tough, tough” decision, as Dr. Hargroder says. After all, the Church currently allows it. Again: who but God knows? A major theologian he consulted said something is not a sin if we have “moral certainty” otherwise: if the collective judgment is death.