Wednesday, November 11, 2009

An inspiring example

From a Catholic parish in Dallas comes this amazing and wonderful story:

Even with her puckish sense of humor, no one could doubt that Carrie Gehling has faced serious health issues.

She lost both legs to a 40-year fight with diabetes and suffered four heart attacks, one of which left her clinically dead for 2 ½ minutes.

After years of dialysis, she needed a kidney transplant, but her medical history made her a high-risk candidate. Several hospitals had turned her down until Medical City Dallas Hospital earlier this year agreed to the procedure – with the provision that she find a live donor.

Among those she turned to for help was her pastor at St. Rita Catholic Church. Monsignor Mark Seitz is a popular and energetic priest who, when not tending to his flock, occasionally indulges in inline skating.

One day he was thinking about where Gehling could get a donor.

"And then I thought, why not me?"

Go and read the whole story; the transplant happened this past Tuesday, and both Monsignor Seitz and Carrie Gehling are recovering.

I truly loved this quote from Msgr. Seitz:

Last summer, when he first heard that Gehling needed a kidney, , "it got me thinking about what a priest does," Seitz said. "We follow the model of one who literally gave his life for us. If he can lay down his life, I can give away a kidney."

There are no words to express how wonderful that is. What an inspiring example the good monsignor is of what the priesthood can be.


kathy said...

Somehow I thought inter vivos kidney donation was sort of frowned upon as a mutilation of the right ordering of the body (having two kidneys).

Red Cardigan said...

Actually, Kathy, the Church's teaching on organ donation is in the Catechsim of the Catholic Church, number 2296, quoted below:

"2296 Organ transplants 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. Organ donation after death is a noble and meritorious act and is to be encouraged as a expression of generous solidarity. It is not morally acceptable if the donor or his proxy has not given explicit consent. Moreover, it is not morally admissible to bring about the disabling mutilation or death of a human being, even in order to delay the death of other persons."

The principles seem fairly straightforward--the (living) donor's risks must be "proportionate" to the good seeking to be done, and the (deceased) donor may not have organs removed without his prior or his family's present consent.

Now, as regards the donation of organs from deceased donors, it's my personal belief that great care must be taken that the hospital's definition of "death" is not a definition which is morally unacceptable to Catholics (e.g., the push by some medical groups to classify as "brain dead" people who still have some signs of brain activity or for whom there is some doubt about such activity). But that's another matter for another time.