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Ebner, Katharina; Ostheimer, Jochen; Sautermeister, Jochen (2020): The role of religious beliefs for the acceptance of xenotransplantation. Exploring dimensions of xenotransplantation in the field of hospital chaplaincy. In: Xenotransplantation, Vol. 27, No. 4, e12579
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Abstract

Background The Changsha Communiqué (2008) calls for a greater account to be taken of the ethical aspects of xenotransplantation as well as of public perception. This also applies to the field of hospital chaplaincy. So far, there has been no empirical exploration of the assessment and acceptance of xenotransplantation by pastoral workers in German‐speaking countries. In view of the prospect of clinical trials, in‐depth research is both sensible and necessary, since both xeno‐ and allotransplantation can have far‐reaching consequences for patients, their relatives, and the social environment. In addition to the tasks of health monitoring, questions of the individual handling with and integration of a xenotransplant must also be considered. They can affect one's own identity and self‐image and thus also affect religious dimensions. Hence, they make a comprehensive range of accompaniment necessary. Methods This paper presents the first explorative results of a Dialogue Board with Christian, Jewish, and Muslim hospital chaplains. It explores pastoral challenges of xenotransplantation for the German‐speaking countries, in particular (a) self‐image and tasks of hospital pastoral care, (b) religious aspects of transplantation, and (c) religious aspects of xenotransplantation as anticipated by the hospital pastors. Results Depending on their religious background, hospital chaplains see different pastoral challenges when xenotransplantation reaches clinical stage. In particular, the effects on the identity and religious self‐image of those affected must be taken into account. Three desiderata or recommendations for action emerged from the Dialogue Board: (a) initial, advanced and further training for hospital pastoral workers, (b) contact points for patients, and (c) interreligious cooperation and a joint statement. All participants of the Dialogue Board emphasized the chances of xenotransplantation and expressed their hope that xenogenic transplants could save patients or improve the quality of their life substantially. Conclusions Xenotransplantation can affect the identity work of patients and relatives also in religious terms. In order to provide better pastoral and psychosocial support for these persons within the framework of the hospital, it is important to reflect on such challenges at an early stage and to develop concepts for pastoral further training and pastoral care in xenotransplantation.