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"Organ Transplantation and Religion:
African Legacy in African-American Thought."


Robert J. Cummings, Ph.D 


  This author recently spoke at the Sixth International Samuel L. Kountz Symposium here in Washington, DC. The symposium, organized by the Howard University National Minority Organ and Tissue Transplant Education Program (MOTTEP), was entitled "Minority Transplant Ethical Issues: Their Resolutions Today and Tomorrow, Part II." The topic of my speech was "Organ Transplantation and Religion: African Legacies in African-American Thought." I decided to share this speech, abbreviated, via this forum because it makes a direct link between Africa and African America. 


   Is there an African ethic grounded in African cosmology to guide us in Making decisions about donating organs to help a fellow human being to live a healthy life or get a new lease on life? This is a complex question to which African ethical articulations do not currently, I believe, provide unequivocal answers. The reasons, however, are partly because both African cultures and moral philosophy have yet to catch up with biomedical ethics, and partly because African cosmological systems generally do not identify the medical sciences as the sole agency responsible for the health and well-being of the human community. 

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June 2001