MHN Assists UK Transplant’s ‘Can
we Count on you?’ Initiative
The Muslim Health Network recently endorsed and supported the UK Transplant’s
organ donation campaign, which targeted the Asian community. Various organisations,
mosques and community forums where contacted and community specific information
was distributed, in the hope that this would highlight and help tackle a serious
issue currently facing the south Asian community. Our basic message to the
community is that if we can take, we should also give.
People from south Asian communities living in the UK are thirteen times more
likely to develop kidney failure than the rest of the population and have a
greater chance of needing a kidney transplant. This is mostly due to diet and
lifestyle factors, as well as an increased susceptibility to diabetes and high
Right now, over 1,170 Asian people in the UK need a transplant and their chances
of success are greater if they can be matched with a donor from the same ethnic
background. But with Asian people accounting for fewer than 2% of deceased
donors, transplant patients from this community typically wait twice as long
as others for a suitable donor to become available. Some will die waiting.
In the face of such disturbing facts, MHN backed the campaign sponsored by
UK Transplant, the NHS organisation responsible for matching and allocating
donated organs, to encourage more Asian people to join the NHS Organ Donor
Register (the national database of people willing to become donors after they
die) and help dispel some common myths that are known to affect donation rates,
in particular assumed religious objections. UK Transplant’s latest south
Asian organ donation campaign, was launched last to encourage more Asian people
to give the gift of life by becoming organ donors.
All the major religions of the UK support the principles of organ donation
and transplantation. However, within each religion there are different schools
of thought, which means that views may differ. All the major religions accept
that organ donation is down to individual choice and anyone with concerns or
doubts about the religious implications of organ donation is encouraged to
talk to their spiritual or religious leader.
In 1995, the UK Islamic Shariah Council issued a fatwa (religious ruling) supporting
organ transplantation as a means of relieving pain or saving life. It should
be noted that the he consensus of The Muslim World League in Makkah, the Organisation
of Islamic Conference in Jeddah and the Islamic Juridical Academy of India
has encouraged organ donation as being a noble act and a measure to save lives.
It is one of the five indispensable goals of Islam to save life. The network
is however opposed to any type of a default organ donation system, as recently
debated in parliament and as is common in Austria. For a detailed response
on the question of organ donation in Islam, please view the article below.
If you would like advice about the issues surrounding organ donation then call
the Organ Donor Helpline on 0845 60 60 400.
Organ Donation in Islam
Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, is a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the
Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Generally speaking, we would like to stress that Islam teaches us
to feed the hungry, to take care of the sick and to save people's
lives. Organ donation is permitted in Islam if it is done within the
permissible limits prescribed by the Shari`ah.Ideally, after death,
a person’s body must be washed, shrouded and buried as intact
as possible after saying the prescribed Prayers; we are not allowed
to dissect, mutilate or tamper with the body in any way. The reason
for this is that the dead person enjoys a certain amount of sanctity
which cannot be violated. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon
him) is reported to have said, “Cutting up a dead person’s
bones is akin to cutting him up while he is alive!”
however, certain exceptions made to the above strict rule in order
to address certain specific exigencies or unusual circumstances.
In other words, the rigors of the law have been relaxed in some
cases, for things that are otherwise deemed as impermissible shall
permissible or even recommended in such cases depending on the severity
or extreme necessity. An example of this is when it has been determined
that a certain organ or body part of a dead person can be used to
save a living person. In such case, we are certainly allowed to
harvest a specific organ or body part of a dead person—provided
that he has already left specific instructions before his death in
will to that effect or provided his legal heirs have authorized
the same. This is based on a ruling of the majority of Muslim jurists
who have deliberated on this issue.
According to the above jurists,
the body of a person after death
can also be subjected to post-mortem in case of a genuine need
to do so
in order to investigate a crime or to find the cause of serious
disease, if doing so is dictated by the need to prevent transmission
a disease. However, all of the above must be done only under strict
regulations. In other words, we cannot take these as blanket approvals
for interfering or tampering with the body unnecessarily.
if you wish to leave instructions to the effect that a certain organ
or part of your body such as kidneys or liver
should be harvested for saving the lives of others, or to find
the cause of a certain disease which may be instrumental in
preventing further occurrence of the disease, you may do so without
any sin. Such an act will even be considered as a grand act
since there is no charity greater than the gift of life. It
is worth remembering that Islam, being as it is primarily a religion
ennobles all charitable acts to every breathing soul or being.
So organ donation is permitted within the limits prescribed
Shari`ah and the conditions stipulated by the Ulema (scholars).
Conditions associated with a living donor:
- He/she must be a person
who is in full possession of his/her faculties so that he/she
is able to make a sound decision by
- He/she must be an adult and, preferably,
at least twenty-one years old;
- It should be done on his/her
own free will without any external pressure exerted on him/ her;
- The organ he/she is donating must not be a vital organ on which
his/her survival or sound health is dependent
- No transplantation of sexual organs is allowed.
Conditions associated with deceased donors:
- It must be done after
having ascertained the free consent of the donor prior to his
/her death. It can be through a will
or signing the donor card, etc.
- In a case where organ donation
consent was not given prior to a donor’s death, the consent
may be granted by the deceased’s
closest relatives who are in a position to make such decisions
on his/her behalf.
- It must be an organ or tissue that
is medically determined to be able to save the life or maintain
the quality of life
- The organ must be removed only from the deceased
person after the death has been ascertained through reliable
- Organs can also be harvested from
the victims of traffic accidents if their identities are unknown,
be done only following
the valid decree of a judge."