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    STUDIA BIOETHICA - Issue no. 2 / 2008  

  Abstract:   Transplantation, which is the transfer of organs, cells and tissues, began many centuries ago as a primitive practice and has since evolved into a modern reality. Written accounts from Egypt, China, Greece and India, dating back many centuries, describe experimentation in grafting and transplantation. Chronic organ diseases and the increasing demand for organ transplantation have become important health care issues within the last few decades. Further efforts to avoid and control the mechanism of rejection of the transplanted organs led to the discovery of new drugs, still without overcoming the problem of the immune response. This article discusses the problems concerning the medical practice of transplantation from the point of view of the Orthodox Theology, especially how it is lived and expressed by the contemporary Greek theologians, scholars and hierarchs. It begins with the presentation of the two ways of knowledge that the Orthodox teaching distinguishes, with their organs and methods of perception and experimentation of the reality. Then it continues with a short review of the historical background concerning the practice of transplants; some scientific orientative data; the axes of the moral-spiritual and dogmatic issues which concern especially the sources of transplants, the conception of brain death, the presumed consent, the status of the donor and of the recipient etc.; the desire to find biblical and canonical basis for the practice of transplantation; the inter-religious approach to the transplantation; decisions and synodical texts in the Orthodox world concerning the transplants and their theological-moral problems; the vision of the Orthodox Theology regarding the transplants from the perspective of Greek theologians; the dilemma of the brain death (since this notion was introduced in the medical terminology by the ad-hoc Committee of the University of Harvard in 1968, it has attracted many comments); the spiritual dimension of the transplants.

Key words: transplants, brain death, organ and tissue donation, consent, donor, Orthodox anthropology, Orthodox Church, Theology, patristic thought, deification/theosis.
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