Debunking Religious and Cultural Misconceptions of Organ Donation and Transplantation
Keywords:organ transplantation, organ donation, religion, culture, bodily integrity, medical law
Organ transplantation is a life-saving procedure that is arguably the most viable treatment option for individuals who are faced with end-stage organ failure. Owing to a shortage of organs for transplantation, however, patients suffering from chronic organ failure often succumb to their illness while on a waiting list. Research has shown that the underlying reason for a lack of motivation to donate stems from inter alia religious and cultural views and practices that are believed to go against organ donation and/or transplantation. This article offers an analysis of specific religious and cultural beliefs which are native to South Africa and discusses the convictions that are both for and against donation. The article further explores the possibility of gaining clarity with regard to these misapprehensions and suggests possible solutions to bringing awareness to the public through the use of a modified version of the Traditional Health Practitioners Act 22 of 2007, as a suggestion. It also advocates education for medical personnel about the different religious and cultural traditions and rituals which accompany death, leading to an atmosphere of respect for the deceased and the deceased’s loved-ones.