Organ Donor

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Xenon-135

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Recently I was renewing my license and I was asked if I would like to be an organ donor. I responded that I wasn’t sure, it sounded like such a wonderful idea, why would it even be necessary to have to “sign up”? I asked if there were any “draw backs” or reasons why someone would refuse to be an organ donor. They told me that I should consult my Church regarding the matter.

Well, I have.

It looks like the license branch is biased. Our Church doesn’t need any organs, but they would like to have a piano, a guitar, and a flute donated.

What do ya think?
 
Ba-dum bump. 😉

Organ donation is a wonderful thing – but your next-of-kin can override your signing on the dotted line. Be sure to make your wishes known!
 
i cannot imagine why anyone wouldn’t be an organ doner… my mother is paranoid, she said she wants to make sure every effort is made to save her… she doesn’t want a scalpel happy physician cutting to soon 😛 … if you are able to pass the gift of life onto someone less fortunate, well God bless you… the reason they want you to sign your license or other document is to make known you wishes to the family members left behind… that way no one will panic when a Dr wants to harvest (love that term) an organ… it is adviseable to forewarn your dependents or spouse so they won’t be insecure about your disires… 👍
 
This is an area laced with controversy.

There is a doctor in Ohio, I think his name is Dr. Paul Burns, who does research into brain death. He says “brain death” is a medical fiction that does not exist. The medical profession uses it as a cutoff point so they can harvest organs off of people. He claims to have video of people who were brain dead jogging now, etc.

I myself havent had the time to research this area to make a clear judgment about it.
 
He claims to have video of people who were brain dead jogging now, etc.
I don’t need a video of the brain dead jogging. I’ve seen them posting in some of these threads lately. :whistle: :yup:
 
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pittsburghjeff:
This is an area laced with controversy.

There is a doctor in Ohio, I think his name is Dr. Paul Burns, who does research into brain death. He says “brain death” is a medical fiction that does not exist. The medical profession uses it as a cutoff point so they can harvest organs off of people. He claims to have video of people who were brain dead jogging now, etc.

I myself havent had the time to research this area to make a clear judgment about it.
Either this doctor is a certifiable nut and/or quack or you may have misunderstood his claims.

In one sense “brain death” as a distinction is a fallacy - because if you’re “brain dead” you’re DEAD. Period.

I work in the medical community. I work in a university hospital. I have dealt with the organ donor process many times. What this doctor claims is utter… well… I’m in a Christian forum, so I can’t really say - but suffice it to say what he says is total bunk.

I have read the literature. I know what doctors all over the world say is death - or brain death, if you will. People who are dead - or brain dead - do NOT jog. They can’t even breathe on their own, It is a physical impossibility.

I’ve been with these patients. I know what death is. The physicians know what death is. They don’t just go about with raised scalpels waiting for an excuse to cut out somebody’s liver or heart. That kind of biased, bigoted, garbage - born of ignorance and the triumph of urbanlegend over known science is why more people won’t be organ donors.

Note - I’m not saying people who are ignorant of the facts are bad - they’re just ignorant. And need to know the real truth. The truth is that the organ donor program is a good, moral, ethical, worthwhile program that could save many more lives than it does, and the main reason it doesn’t save as many as it could is summed up in two words: ignorance and prejudice.

I’d be glad to elucidate more if anybody wants to read it or has specific questions.

Pax Christi!
 
“Brain dead” ought to mean that there is absolutely, positively no function left in the brain. The problem is, how do you prove a negative? Well, there are a plethora of tests that can be performed, and if they are all conclusive, a *reasonable * assessment can be made that the person is brain dead.

The trouble is, many hospitals don’t perform all available tests. They perform some tests, and draw a conclusion from that. That’s why so many people are declared brain dead but continue to “live” for weeks or even months.

Although rare, there are cases where people have been declared brain dead, who then make a complete recovery. Some pro-organ-donation websites have the nerve to “refute” this by claiming ’ well, then the person wasn’t really brain dead.’

It’s an absurd rebuttal: they were declared brain dead by a doctor, and had they been an organ donor, their organs would have been removed before anyone noticed they weren’t really dead.

There are troubling reports of bodies moving while their organs are being removed. (Since they’re “dead” there’s no reason to administer an anesthesia.) In the most gruesome report, the “dead body” grabbed a nurse as his heart was removed.

In theory, organ donation is a wonderful act of charity. But it can easily become a well-intentioned sin, if every ounce of life has not left the body, and the soul is still residing therein.
 
The problem, as it has been explained to me by good Catholic doctors, is that the window of opportunity to harvest organs is very small. I know a few doctors who contend that it is simply impossible to harvest a heart usefully unless the heart is still beating strongly which may be a good indication that the body is actually alive. Organ donation scares me because I have no assurance that organs are not being harvested from badly damaged, living people. If the doctors wait until the body is truly dead, the organs are useless.

Remember that most people view morality as proportional. They view the act of removing organs from a body that “might” be alive as outweighed by the fact that those organs may save someone. They ignore the important point, that removing the organs might be wrong.
 
Paul W said:
“Brain dead” ought to mean that there is absolutely, positively no function left in the brain. The problem is, how do you prove a negative? Well, there are a plethora of tests that can be performed, and if they are all conclusive, a *reasonable * assessment can be made that the person is brain dead.

The trouble is, many hospitals don’t perform all available tests. They perform some tests, and draw a conclusion from that. That’s why so many people are declared brain dead but continue to “live” for weeks or even months.

Although rare, there are cases where people have been declared brain dead, who then make a complete recovery. Some pro-organ-donation websites have the nerve to “refute” this by claiming ’ well, then the person wasn’t really brain dead.’

It’s an absurd rebuttal: they were declared brain dead by a doctor, and had they been an organ donor, their organs would have been removed before anyone noticed they weren’t really dead.

There are troubling reports of bodies moving while their organs are being removed. (Since they’re “dead” there’s no reason to administer an anesthesia.) In the most gruesome report, the “dead body” grabbed a nurse as his heart was removed.

In theory, organ donation is a wonderful act of charity. But it can easily become a well-intentioned sin, if every ounce of life has not left the body, and the soul is still residing therein.
  1. “The trouble is, many hospitals don’t perform all available tests”
    What is your source for this information? Is documentation available? Do you work in a hospital where organ donation ever takes place? Have you ever been present when such things take place? Are you well read in the medical literature (not internet websites - the medical literature) on the relevant subjects? I’m not criticizing it if you are not - I’m trying to ascertain your qualifications to make this claim. I know the facts that I have observed over 24 years in the medical profession, and from what I have read over that time, and from the communications I have had with medical professionals from all over the country and the world on such topics.
  2. “That’s why so many people are declared brain dead but continue to “live” for weeks or even months.” HOW many people are declared brain dead and live for weeks or months? Where? By whom were they declared? Where is the publication reporting this in the scientific and medical literature?
  3. “Although rare, there are cases where people have been declared brain dead, who then make a complete recovery.” Where are these cases reported. If they happened and are medically verified, they should be in the medical literaure. What journal? What issue and page number?
  4. “The problem is, how do you prove a negative?” This is confusing a debating question with a medical question. You aren’t proving a negative in checking the criteria for death (so-called “brain death”). The active brain, one that is not dead, that is functioning, will manifest that function in a number of ways. Sound and accepted medical science understands that the absence of those functions positively indicates death. As you note, there are a number of tests that can be performed that assess both clinical and physiologic parameters, all of which taken together positively document death.
  5. “There are troubling reports of bodies moving while their organs are being removed. (Since they’re “dead” there’s no reason to administer an anesthesia.) In the most gruesome report, the “dead body” grabbed a nurse as his heart was removed.” Where are those reports? Give us citations of publications so we can read the same reports and assess them. Or are these anti-organ donation websites? In talking about such subjects as this, what is needed is medical, scientific reports, not sites perpetuating myriad urban legends and internet mythology. Are these reports available in the realm of evidence based medicine? Like the Cochrane database? Are there any meta-analyses made on these reports and the construction and design of the scientific studies supporting these claims? What statistical analytical tools were used to reach these ocnclusions. What was the p factor on these studies? Was it p < 0.001?
my next point continued in next message due to forum length constraints…

Blessings upon all!
 
Continuation/conclusion with point #6
  1. “In theory, organ donation is a wonderful act of charity. But it can easily become a well-intentioned sin, if every ounce of life has not left the body, and the soul is still residing therein.” In FACT, organ donation is a wonderful act of charity. It is approved by the Catholic Church and has been actively supported by the current Pope. It is sanctioned in CCC (don’t have the exact quote right here, but it has been posted in these forums in a similar thread). Of course, it is correct that if the person were not really dead, then taking any surgery that deliberately caused death prior to death would be a grave sin. No doubt. Unfortunetaly, there is no medical test to confirm or deny the residence of the soul within the body. We are limited to sound medical science in making that call. And that has been accepted by the Catholic Church in official teaching. God gave us that medical acumen after all, didn’t he?
Blessings upon all!
 
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Ham1:
The problem, as it has been explained to me by good Catholic doctors, is that the window of opportunity to harvest organs is very small. I know a few doctors who contend that it is simply impossible to harvest a heart usefully unless the heart is still beating strongly which may be a good indication that the body is actually alive. Organ donation scares me because I have no assurance that organs are not being harvested from badly damaged, living people. If the doctors wait until the body is truly dead, the organs are useless.

Remember that most people view morality as proportional. They view the act of removing organs from a body that “might” be alive as outweighed by the fact that those organs may save someone. They ignore the important point, that removing the organs might be wrong.
The doctore you mention as explaining about the narrow window are accurate. But those who do this procedure and are familiar with all the criteria have honed the process to work extremely efficiently once true death has been determined.

Only relying on your fears, you also have no assurance that organs ARE being harvested from badly damaged, living people. It is medically disengenuous to say that waiting until the body is truly dead means the organs are useless. The process of death is not, and never has been, an instantaneous moment in time in which the entire body changed from being alive to being dead. It is a process, not a point in time.

I don’t agree with you that “most people” have a moral concecpt that removing organs from live people is OK if somebody else might be saved. SOME people may well feel that way. You may know some that feel that way. But most people? What data do you have that sypport that? I’d like to read it.

The important point you mention is indeed important. Removing organs from a livng person, when removing them would cause that person’s death, would most assuredly be wrong. But a blanket statement that removing organs is wrong may be suported by your own personal views, which is your right. But it is not supported by the Catholic Church in what it has spoken on the subject.

Pax Christi!
 
Paul W said:
“Brain dead” ought to mean that there is absolutely, positively no function left in the brain. The problem is, how do you prove a negative? Well, there are a plethora of tests that can be performed, and if they are all conclusive, a *reasonable * assessment can be made that the person is brain dead.

The trouble is, many hospitals don’t perform all available tests. They perform some tests, and draw a conclusion from that. That’s why so many people are declared brain dead but continue to “live” for weeks or even months.

Although rare, there are cases where people have been declared brain dead, who then make a complete recovery. Some pro-organ-donation websites have the nerve to “refute” this by claiming ’ well, then the person wasn’t really brain dead.’

It’s an absurd rebuttal: they were declared brain dead by a doctor, and had they been an organ donor, their organs would have been removed before anyone noticed they weren’t really dead.

There are troubling reports of bodies moving while their organs are being removed. (Since they’re “dead” there’s no reason to administer an anesthesia.) In the most gruesome report, the “dead body” grabbed a nurse as his heart was removed.

In theory, organ donation is a wonderful act of charity. But it can easily become a well-intentioned sin, if every ounce of life has not left the body, and the soul is still residing therein.
  1. “The trouble is, many hospitals don’t perform all available tests”
    What is your source for this information? Is documentation available? Do you work in a hospital where organ donation ever takes place? Have you ever been present when such things take place? Are you well read in the medical literature (not internet websites - the medical literature) on the relevant subjects? I’m not criticizing it if you are not - I’m trying to ascertain your qualifications to make this claim. I know the facts that I have observed over 24 years in the medical profession, and from what I have read over that time, and from the communications I have had with medical professionals from all over the country and the world on such topics.
  2. “That’s why so many people are declared brain dead but continue to “live” for weeks or even months.” HOW many people are declared brain dead and live for weeks or months? Where? By whom were they declared? Where is the publication reporting this in the scientific and medical literature?
  3. “Although rare, there are cases where people have been declared brain dead, who then make a complete recovery.” Where are these cases reported. If they happened and are medically verified, they should be in the medical literaure. What journal? What issue and page number?
  4. “The problem is, how do you prove a negative?” This is confusing a debating question with a medical question. You aren’t proving a negative in checking the criteria for death (so-called “brain death”). The active brain, one that is not dead, that is functioning, will manifest that function in a number of ways. Sound and accepted medical science understands that the absence of those functions positively indicates death. As you note, there are a number of tests that can be performed that assess both clinical and physiologic parameters, all of which taken together positively document death.
  5. “There are troubling reports of bodies moving while their organs are being removed. (Since they’re “dead” there’s no reason to administer an anesthesia.) In the most gruesome report, the “dead body” grabbed a nurse as his heart was removed.” Where are those reports? Give us citations of publications so we can read the same reports and assess them. Or are these anti-organ donation websites? In talking about such subjects as this, what is needed is medical, scientific reports, not sites perpetuating myriad urban legends and internet mythology. Are these reports available in the realm of evidence based medicine? Like the Cochrane database? Are there any meta-analyses made on these reports and the construction and design of the scientific studies supporting these claims? What statistical analytical tools were used to reach these ocnclusions. What was the p factor on these studies? Was it p < 0.001?
my next point continued in next message due to forum length constraints…

Blessings upon all!
 
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Xenon-135:
Recently I was renewing my license and I was asked if I would like to be an organ donor. I responded that I wasn’t sure, it sounded like such a wonderful idea, why would it even be necessary to have to “sign up”? I asked if there were any “draw backs” or reasons why someone would refuse to be an organ donor. They told me that I should consult my Church regarding the matter.
Re: consulting the Church - see below quote:

Respect for the person and scientific research

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 that is sought for the recipient. Organ donation after death is a noble and meritorious act and is to be encouraged as an 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 directly to bring about the disabling mutilation or death of a human being, even in order to delay the death of other persons.

So - that’s prety clear, I think. It addresses the issues of morals some have raised. It doee affirm that the Church recognizes the weighing and proportioning in a moral decision. It verifies organ donation after death as a noble and meritorius act. Your initial response was completely in tune with Church teaching.

You - and anyone else - have the absolute right to refuse to be an organ donor just because you want to refuse to do it. No question whatever about that right. And you can make that decision for any reason you see fit - whether it’s based on oft-repeated urban legends and scary “reports” or merely based on the fact that you don’t wanna do it.

I will note that repeating untruths or half truths frequently enough does NOT make them truth, even though there is a human tendency to accept such things after hearing it for so many times.

I work in the medical profession, I know what goes on because I’ve been there too many times, and I would not have any hesitation about someone taking any and all of my tissues and organs that might benefit someone else after I’m done with them and can use them no more.

Pax Christi!
 
I have drawn my information from Catholic bishops and surgeons who have raised questions about the ethics of organ donation. I believe there was one on Catholic Answers Live within the past few months. It is not a black-and-white question that can be scientifically proven true or false, it is an ethical dilemma.

We know that some doctors can jab a scissors into an infant’s skull shortly before it is born, and rationalize their actions as assisting a woman’s right to remove a blob of tissue.

We know that some doctors are willing (if not yet legally able) to assist living, breathing, conscious patients who want to commit suicide.

It it so inconceivable that some --not all, but some–doctors might be willing to end one person’s life a day, a week, or a month early, if it enables another person to live for a year?

Can we postulate that there are at least some doctors who, when they encounter a person who appears to be dead, are willing to perform a few tests to determine that the the person is at least 99% dead, but who don’t want to waste time determining whether the person is some fraction of a percent alive, because that existance would have no “quality of life”?

The bottom line is, do you believe that every emergency room doctor agrees that you have a God-given soul, and that your organs can’t be removed even one second before Our Lord has withdrawn your soul?

That’s the million-dollar question.
 
It appears that the initial post, although struggling as it was, was intended to interject a sophomoric humor into the matter.

At this late age in the thread, I see that the humor-osity has all but been emancipated.

😃
 
Paul W:
I have drawn my information from Catholic bishops and surgeons who have raised questions about the ethics of organ donation. I believe there was one on Catholic Answers Live within the past few months. It is not a black-and-white question that can be scientifically proven true or false, it is an ethical dilemma.

We know that some doctors can jab a scissors into an infant’s skull shortly before it is born, and rationalize their actions as assisting a woman’s right to remove a blob of tissue.

We know that some doctors are willing (if not yet legally able) to assist living, breathing, conscious patients who want to commit suicide.

It it so inconceivable that some --not all, but some–doctors might be willing to end one person’s life a day, a week, or a month early, if it enables another person to live for a year?

Can we postulate that there are at least some doctors who, when they encounter a person who appears to be dead, are willing to perform a few tests to determine that the the person is at least 99% dead, but who don’t want to waste time determining whether the person is some fraction of a percent alive, because that existance would have no “quality of life”?

The bottom line is, do you believe that every emergency room doctor agrees that you have a God-given soul, and that your organs can’t be removed even one second before Our Lord has withdrawn your soul?

That’s the million-dollar question.
Paul -

This post of yours raises issues in cogent a manner, and is much clearer to me. This is an issue that requires patience and persistence to deal with (perhaps I should say a set of issues rather than just one issue). And I did note ana appreciate Xenon’s humor at the end of his post starting this thread.

Of course, as the bishops and surgeons you have communicated with have said, there are, without a doubt, important ethical issues connected with organ donation. Always have been - always will be.

You are absolutely right about the issue you raise mentining partial-borth abortions. Doctors, some of 'em anyway, CAN choose to do that. It’s the SAME issue in that it involves deliberate termination of a God-given life, yet it is a DIFFERENT issue because the one situation deals with termination of a definitely living new live while the other situation deals with the (hopefully) things that happen just after the end of a life. So - they’re the same but different. 🙂

Your next two paragraphs also raise valid questions, and I think we all pretty much know that it is possible to find folks who will do those things you mention.

Now to your last paragraph: I KNOW that I can’t count on EVERY ER doctor being one who believes everyone has an immortal soul, etc. Here’s the trick: ER doctors don’t make that decision in any place I know of that is a center that is involved in the organ donor process. While I obviously can’t know of a certainty that it is never done anywhere in the world, I do know how it is - or is not - done in most places. Those decisions simply aren’t made in the ER. If the patient is so badly injured or sick that there is not enough time after they have entered via the ER to make the appropriate tests, and the patient dies in the ER, then they’re dead, and most likely were too sick or too badly injured to have had viable organs anyway.

While your points are valid, one cannot move from the specific exceptions to the rule to assume a generalized practice ignoring the appropriate tests and criteria. Such a move is not only unfair, it is poor logic. That exceptions to this and every rule happen is not questioned. But you don’t assume exceptions ARE the rule.

Yes - the system CAN be abused. Usually it is not. But, as in many many other things - ABUSUS NOT USUM TOLLIT - the abuse does not take away the use.

Asking the questions is good - not bad. Forcing if necessary - medical folks to not take these things for granted is good. Continuous scrutiny is good. Generalizing the bad exceptions to arrive at in inference that the exceptions are the ruls would not be good. I’m not saying you’re doing that, Paul - I’m just saying it is something we have to be careful of in engaging in these discussions.

Right now - as I type - one of the biggest and most encompassing critical care medicine communication groups in the world is discussing - very critically - these very issues. Re-examining standards and criteria. Asking questions. Making sure we’re doing as good as possible. Seeing how we can do better. It is a matter of constant surveillance, questioning, and revision. The safest thing for all of us is for that continuous revision and research to happen - if it becomes static, we will soon take it for granted, and not question any more.

But it is a good thing. Lives are saved - in ethcal ways - every day because of organ donation.

Deo gratias.
 
I think one thing I wanted to say is this:

Questioning and scrutinizing the process is good, not bad.

But, it is ABSOLUTELY IMPERATIVE we understand exactly what the process is, and root our and eliminate all the “urgan legend” factors and misinformation that is out there before we can make any valid decisions.

👍
 
Servant1 addressed some of these issues on a previous thread as well, and I thank him for the time and thought he’s put into it.

It seems that one thing that has changed in recent decades is the definition of death. Previously, it was something like the cessation of breathing and stoppage of the heart. There was no debate about organ donation then, because once those things happen, organs are useless.

It’s been said in previous posts that dead is dead, and that the medical community has thorough and accepted standards of death. But now, I believe, those standards primarily relate to the loss of brain function, don’t they? So that now when we say that Joe is dead, what we really mean is, Joe’s brain is dead. That is, we are reducing the person to a brain. Am I understanding this right?

If we are reducing a person to a brain, perhaps that is acceptable from a medical perspective. But it’s really a philosophical question. Is a person more than their brain?

JimG
 
Jim - I’ll try to intersperse my responses within the text of your reply. Cross your fingers to see if it works! 👍
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JimG:
Servant1 addressed some of these issues on a previous thread as well, and I thank him for the time and thought he’s put into it.
You, sir, are too kind!
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JimG:
It seems that one thing that has changed in recent decades is the definition of death. Previously, it was something like the cessation of breathing and stoppage of the heart. There was no debate about organ donation then, because once those things happen, organs are useless.
Tthat is pretty accurate. More current knowledge has informed us that all these things don’t happen at one instant in time.
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JimG:
t’s been said in previous posts that dead is dead, and that the medical community has thorough and accepted standards of death. But now, I believe, those standards primarily relate to the loss of brain function, don’t they? So that now when we say that Joe is dead, what we really mean is, Joe’s brain is dead. That is, we are reducing the person to a brain. Am I understanding this right?
Well, the medical community and legal community jointly do share thorough and accepted standards of death. As you say, right now, they primarily relate to levels of brain function. However, it is oversimplification to say that these standards reduce the person of Joe to the brain. There are a couple of intervening issues that complicate that conclusion which at first seems so simple and obvious.

One is the medical and physiological fact that once the brain REALLY stops functioning, the rest of the systems WILL stop functioning, usually within hours in most folks. That total brain death starts a cascade that is pretty irreversible.

The other is the fact that the human brain IS special in the scheme of person-hood or humanity as opposed to being an animal. Cats have brains. Snakes have brains. And humans have brains. There is a peculiar aspect of a human brain that tells us it also houses what makes that person the person he/she is. When that barin doesn’t “do its thing” any more, that person functions no differently than a cat, a snake, or a planaria. There is some associative function of organelles and systems. But there is no more, other than the original "engineering design, of whatever it was that differentiated that person from others. So the person is not reduced to a brain, but in some very real and definitive aspects, personHOOD (as opposed to “animalHOOD”) is dependent upon brain function.
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JimG:
If we are reducing a person to a brain, perhaps that is acceptable from a medical perspective. But it’s really a philosophical question. Is a person more than their brain?
JimG
And of course, there’s the issue. At some point, the world of medicine, physiology, metaphysics, philosophy, ethic, and religion ABSOLUTELY converge and are all thrown into the pot at the same time, no matter how uncomfortable that pot is!

Catholic and other religious (and non-religious) eithicists are actively working in the trenches with medical people and researchers who are striving to continue to fine tune this process. God knows our limitations as humans. The Church knows them.

We don’t have things perfect, and probably won’t this side of eternity. GOD knows how he designed us, and whether or not he designed the human brain to be the reservoir of humanity. We won’t know - till we’re on the other side with God. Until then, all we can do is work within our limitations, and have faith that God didn’t give us the faculties to develop the knowledge we have that can save lives just to ignore it because it CAN be perverted or abused. Throughout history, God has never chosen to work that way.

I am convinced God is NOT calling us to simply lay down and quit using the knowledge that he has allowed us to obtain. We should ocntinue to use it to the best of our ability, knowing that God is the giver of all good and perfect gifts, including life, and trying with all our might and skills to preserve it where it can be preserved, and to use our knowledge of that blessed and marvelous machine, the human body, to further life however that can be accomplished in a godly manner that keeps the glory where it should be.
 
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