Bishop condemns NSW cooperation in body parts trade

Sydney Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher has attacked a business arrangement between the NSW Government and an Australian company to develop and market human tissue products.

The human body should not be seen as a commodity "to be bought and sold," says Bishop Fisher who is also the Episcopal Vicar for Life and Health. "Altruism and gift should be the ruling values in the human tissue transfer area," he said.

Bishop Fisher was commenting on the NSW Government entering into a business arrangement with Australian Biotechnologies, a for-profit company to develop and market products from human tissues, the Catholic Weekly reports.

The company will process tissue such as bones and tendons from up to 1200 corpses a year that will be supplied through Government-run morgues.

Relatives of the deceased will be asked for permission to use the body parts. The Government will not profit from the agreement.

Bishop Fisher says this arrangement could undermine the established practice of blood, tissue and organ donation rather than sale.

"I think we should be very reluctant to start trading in human tissue and that it is much better that the development of therapies from human tissues remains under the control of not-for-profit institutions such as the Red Cross," he said.

Bishop Fisher has also expressed concern for a recent proposal to extend organ donation preparations to patients while they are still alive but who are certain to die after experiencing "cardiac death" (when the heart stops beating and circulation stops). In the past, transplant preparations have been carried out on brain-dead patients.

Bishop Fisher said: "The Church is a great supporter of organ donation after death as long as we treat the donor and family with due reverence and we are sure the donor is actually dead.

"The organ transfer process should never govern the care we give the donor. I would be concerned if this new proposal interferes with the dying process rather than waiting for death to occur naturally and in its own time.

"Organ donation is best left until death has been confirmed rather than interfering with the care of the patient in anticipation of death," he said.

Bishop condemns trade in body parts (Catholic Weekly, 23/7/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Bishop Anthony Fisher
Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney
Life Office Sydney Archdiocese

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20 Jul 2006