Knights aim to promote organ donation

Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer

Several Knights of Columbus councils in the Archdiocese of Louisville are on a mission to educate parishioners in the area about organ donation.

The message is simple: Organ donation can save lives.

That’s what Matthew Whisman, a parishioner of Our Lady of Lourdes Church and an officer with the parish’s Knights of Columbus Council, said in an interview last week.

“It really fits with our pro-life message. The Knights of Columbus are steadfast in our Catholic belief of that,” he said. “I think some Catholics forget that life is until death. There is a lot of focus on abortion but it carries beyond that. Organ donation is a way of carrying out our pro-life message.”

There are two main types of organ donation: living donation and deceased donation.

A living donation occurs when an individual donates an organ, such as a kidney or a portion of the liver, to someone in need of the organ.

A deceased donation happens when an individual has elected to donate his or her organs at the time of death.

The Knights of Columbus are focusing their efforts are encouraging individuals to sign organ donation pledge cards for deceased organ donation.

Six Knights of Columbus Councils will host sign-up drives in the coming weeks and months. They are: St. Edward, Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Margaret Mary, St. Brigid, St. James and St. Michael churches. For specific times, contact the parish.

“It’s sad how many people pass away waiting on an organ. In many cases, it’s just a game of people signing up,” he said.

At the events, the Knights of Columbus will have a one-page form people can fill out to become registered organ donors with the state. All people 18 years or older are welcome to sign up.

There are a few other ways to sign-up, too: Sign up when you receive or renew your driver’s license or state ID card, visit donatelifeky.org and fill out a form or contact one of the Knights of Columbus councils involved in the effort.

Beyond educating people about the importance of signing an organ donation pledge card, Whisman, 24, said the councils also hope to dispel some myths surrounding organ donation.

“Some people ask, ‘Am I too old?’ That’s up to the doctor to decide,” he said.

Others wonder if organ donation is in line with the teachings of the Catholic Church, he said.

“The Catechism of the Catholic Church” and documents issued by the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops indicate living and deceased organ donations “are in conformity with the moral law if the physical and psychological dangers and risks to the donor are proportionate to the good sought for the recipient,” (2296).

St. John Paul II wrote in Evangelium Vitae that “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” was an act of “everyday heroism.”

All donation expenses are paid for by the transplant program, and organ removal will not interfere with funeral and burial arrangements, Whisman said.

If these registration drives are successful, Whisman said, the Knights of Columbus may consider mobilizing a state-wide effort to register more potential donors.

“As we go further, we also want to talk about blood donations. They are in dire need, too. I think we’ll look at bone marrow donations,” he said.

For more guidance, Whisman suggests contacting Donate Life,  a pastor or one of the Knights councils.

To sign up to be an organ donor, visit donatelifeky.org.

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