It’s a story that can affect each and every one of us. Most of us know of a friend or even a family member who either had or is waiting to have an organ transplant. Being on the waitlist for an organ transplant is daunting, both for the patient and their family.
The aim of this article is not to discuss the scholarly opinions, but to raise awareness about such an important topic. Organ donation is considered to many as a religious generosity for which a Muslim would be rewarded from Allah, a duty that we owe to our fellow ill human beings. In Islam, saving one life is equated to saving the whole mankind. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) told us: “Whosoever of you can render any benefit to his brother should do so.” No benefit can be considered greater than saving someone’s life by giving him the gift of an organ or tissue donation. This is not only considered as a charitable act but also as a sadaqah jariyah (ongoing charity) from which the donor will continue to reap rewards after his/her own death, so long as the donated organ continues to function in the body of another human being.”
Of course it’s a personal choice and if anyone is feeling doubtful about it, he or she should seek advice from a scholar that he trusts.
Organ donation is divided into two main types. Living donation is received from a living donor; this is the case with liver and kidney donations. A normal person can survive and be healthy with only one kidney and a part of a liver. This type of donation doesn’t only save the life of the recipient but also the next person on the deceased organ waiting list.
The other type is the deceased organ donation which is giving an organ or tissue at the time of the donor’s death. An individual may be able to donate organs, tissues or eyes even if he or she is not eligible to donate blood. Transplantation is a medically acceptable treatment for end-stage organ failure and post-transplant survival rates continue to improve.
More than 116,900 people are waiting for an organ transplant in the United States. A new person is added to the waiting list every 18 minutes. People frequently die while waiting for a suitable organ to be available.
If you want to be an organ donor, it is important to have a conversation with your family about your donation wishes because this makes it easier for them at the time of death. You should also indicate your wishes on Legacy Organ & Tissue Donation Registry. When you register as an organ donor, you can choose which organs and or tissues you would like to donate. You can always withdraw or change your choices online anytime.
It’s also important to know that organ and tissue donation does not prevent a family from proceeding with desired funeral arrangements. While the time of loss can be very hard for the family, organ and tissue donation is considered as a positive experience by many. Families find resolve that a life-saving operation came out of the tragedy; a part of their beloved one still lives and helps another fellow human being to survive.
To conclude, the practice of organ donation is thought to be congruent with the Islamic principles that are universal and humanitarian. These principles include rahmah i.e. to show compassion, helping one another, and making continual (jariah) charity. It should always be a personal choice and family members should be informed about it.
Esraa Eloseily, MD, MRCPCH
Consultant of pediatric rheumatology
Assiut University Children Hospital