In the name of Allāh, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

THE CONCUNDRUM OF ORGAN DONATION : WE WANT LIVING ORGANS FROM DEAD DONORS

THE CONUNDRUM OF ORGAN DONATION :

WE WANT LIVING ORGANS FROM DEAD DONORS

 

One of the biggest dilemmas facing the U.K. Muslims at present is the issue of organ donation. With the change in the organ donation law from April 2020 if you are an adult and resident in England when you die the government will presume you have agreed to donate your organs for transplantation.

 

This idea of presumed consented may be seen as problematic from an ethical perspective in certain ethnic minorities, such as the Muslim community, where to presume that the majority if asked would consent to organ donation cannot be justified.

 

Knowledge and facts are of different types and the scientific and religious approaches can be very different when providing evidence to justify a decision. In religion knowledge revealed via sacred texts is the highest level of evidence, whereas when making decisions based on science religious texts hold no value.

 

FACTS

  1. There is a shortage of organs for donations worldwide including in the U.K.
  2. 3 people a day die in the UK waiting for an organ transplant.
  3. Asians, including Muslims, are over-represented on the transplant waiting list and under-represented on the organ donation register. (2018-19 data)
  4. 4%  of all deceased donors Asian and 13% of all deceased transplants are Asian. (2018-19 data)
  5. Asians in the U.K. needing organ transplantation have to wait longer, on average, than their white counterparts due to lack of suitable organs.
  6. Essential organs for transplantation such as the heart, liver and lungs can only be removed from a dead person since their removal from a living person would be the cause of death.
  7. In the U.K. the majority of organ donations are from those declared brainstem dead.
  8. Brainstem dead individuals will never regain consciousness, never be able to move purposefully, never breathe on their own, they will never recover based on our current medical knowledge. So to keep them “alive” with artificial feeding, breathing, and in some cases, artificial circulation using limited precious resources would seem unreasonable. Such individuals are, from a medical perspective, no hope no purpose situation.
  9. Brainstem death is recognized as legal death in U.K.
  10. Whether brain death is actual death or not is has been and continues to be debated amongst western academics.
  11. For certain medical conditions, organ donation is the most effective treatment, medically and financially.
  12. Scientific data shows that organ transplantation saves lives. Muslims in favour of organ donation often quote the Quranic verse, “If anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he had saved the lives of all mankind.” (Quran 5:32)

 

RELIGIOUS CONSIDERATIONS

  1. There is a difference of opinion amongst Muslim scholars on whether it is permissible or not to remove organs from a dead body or not. Some scholars consider the removal of organs from a dead body to be ḥarām (forbidden) other scholars consider deceased organ donation not only to be permissible but recommended or highly recommended. Some consider it to be a form of ongoing charity (sadaqa jariya) as there is potential to save other people's lives.
  2. All Muslim scholars agree that essential organs such as the heart, liver and lungs can only be removed from a dead person.
  3. Islamic death is defined as the removal of the soul from the body by the Angel of death. All Muslims agree on this.
  4. No individual dies before his or her time. All Muslims agree on this.
  5. Muslim scholars disagree if brainstem death equates with Islamic death. The majority of fatawa issued for UK Muslims do not consider that brainstem death equates with Islamic death.
  6. After life support measures have been withdrawn from a brainstem individual the heart will stop permanently, no air will be going in and out of the lungs then it can be said that the soul has departed from the body and the individual is Islamically dead.
  7. If essential organs are removed from brainstem individuals who are not Islamically dead then the removal of organs is the cause of Islamic death. “Whoever kills a person it is as though he has killed all mankind. And If anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he had saved the lives of all mankind.” (Quran 5:32)

 

THE DILEMMA

  1. There is no doubt that there is a need for organ donation from the Asian and Muslim communities in the U.K.
  2. If Muslims are willing to receive organs they must be willing to donate organs (the principle of reciprocity).
  3. The crucial question for an individual is: Can I give doctors permission to remove essential organs from my body when I have been declared brainstem dead but not Islamically dead on the hope that my organs will save other people's lives but the removal of my organs will be the cause of my Islamic death. This is the dilemma.
  4. After after you have considered the matter carefully and derived at a decision, you can register your decision to donate your organs after you die or register your decision not to donate

 

Links

Opt-Out Organ Donation Law FAQS

Does brainstem death equate with Islāmic death

 

FOR THE PURPOSES OF INHERITANCE THE TIME OF ISLAMIC DEATH IS THE RELEVANT ONE

 

Dr. A. Hussain, July 2021