x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Majority in favour of donating organs

UAE residents willing to donate organs after death.

Roughly two thirds of UAE residents would be willing to donate their organs after death, according to a study by the Emirates Medical Association Nephrology Society.

The study, conducted between 2006 and 2010, surveyed 1,400 residents between the ages of 20 and 60.

Seventy per cent of the expatriates and 65 per cent of Emiratis surveyed said they would not mind donating their organs.

Experts said this constituted notable progress in how organ donation is perceived, despite cultural and traditional stigmas.

Dr Mona Al Rukhaimi, the president of the society, said the results made the case for a law allowing organ transplants from brain-dead donors.

"The time to pass the law is now. We have hundreds of patients who can benefit from this procedure," she said, adding: "There are some who are against it and prolonging the process unnecessarily."

Dr Al Rukhaimi conceded that there was a difference between answering a survey and actually committing to being an organ donor, and said people needed to be further educated to dispel misconceptions.

"We definitely need more awareness," she said. "But first we need to pass the law so that people do have the option. By doing this we can also prevent people from travelling abroad to buy a kidney and do the surgery."

One common misconception is that organ donation after death is forbidden in Islam. Many residents said they would be inclined to donate their organs otherwise.

"I would want to but I heard that it's haram," said Ahmed Khatib, a 31-year-old Dubai resident from Lebanon. "And I wouldn't want to do anything that is prohibited in my religion."

Maryam Adel, a 22-year-old Iraqi living in Sharjah, had the same misunderstanding, but a different approach.

"They say it's haram, but I think I still would," she said. "It makes sense to me. I won't be needing them after I pass away and they'll save someone else's life, so I can't imagine why not."

Dr Ahmad bin Abdulaziz Al Haddad, Grand Mufti of Dubai and head of the fatwa department, said organ transplants from the dead were permitted in Islam, provided they met certain conditions.

"If an organ is to be extracted from the body of a dead person, the deceased ought to have allowed it in their will," he said.

"If the person had not, consent must be obtained from their close relatives to avoid potential conflict … Organ transplantation is a way of preserving life, which is a major tenet in all laws."

mismail@thenational.ae