April 1, 2010
Bishop Gabino Zavala Encourages Catholics to Sign Up as Organ and Tissue Donors
Public Service Announcements to Air During April’s Donate Life Month
The Most Reverend Gabino Zavala, Auxiliary Bishop of the San Gabriel pastoral region, encourages Catholics to sign up to become organ and tissue donors in a media campaign that will air in the greater Los Angeles area during April.
Bishop Zavala taped public service announcements (PSAs) for television and radio – with an emphasis on Spanish-language media- to be aired during April, when the nation celebrates Donate Life Month, to bring attention to the critical need for organ and tissue donors.
“I want to remind you that organ donation is an act of love,” states Bishop Zavala in the PSA. “Donation is an act of goodwill that follows Christ's commandment of loving one another,” he adds.
Many Catholics are still unclear about the position of the Church regarding organ donation. In the PSA, the Bishop clarifies that not keeping the body whole does not affect their loved ones or their own chances to be resurrected: “Catholics believe in the resurrection of the body on the last day, but this does not depend on it being buried whole.”
Although it might come as a surprise to some, the Catholic Church has been a strong supporter of donation as a life-saving practice. It is a little-known fact that Pope Benedict XVI was a registered donor before he became Pope.
“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,” stated then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in a 1999 interview with Zenit, a Catholic newswire service.
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.”
Bishop Zavala’s public support for organ and tissue donation comes at a time when the need for organ donation 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. Tragically, one third of patients on the waiting list will die before they receive a transplant.
The PSAs are sponsored by Donate Life California, the nonprofit organ and tissue donor registry serving the state. Bishop Zavala, who generously volunteered his time to tape the spots, and, additionally, has 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.
OneLegacy is the non-profit organization dedicated to saving lives through organ and tissue donation in the seven-county greater Los Angeles area. With more than 200 hospitals, 12 transplant centers and a diverse population of 19 million, OneLegacy is the largest organ and tissue recovery organization in the world.
Those wishing to make the commitment to donate may register online at www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org or its Spanish-language counterpart, www.doneVIDAcalifornia.org. For more information, call OneLegacy at (800) 786-4077 or visit www.onelegacy.org.