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Chapter-4: Modern Issues like Blood Transfusion, Organ Donation

Islamic Society & Culture


Organ Donation:
With the advancements in medical sciences, new ethical issues like organ transplant and blood transfusion to save human lives came up. The  Islamic scholars have resolved them through Ijtehad. Hence the blood transfusion and organ transplant are considered as permissible in Islam to save the human lives. To use an organ from a living person for transplantation into another is permissible if this does not endanger his own life and the recipient or his family or the state or any other authority does not put the donor under any pressure to give away his organ. If some one  donates his organ, he must do so out of his own free choice. It is not difficult to imagine a variety of situations where people are pressurized into donating their kidneys, or indeed forced to do so. In some countries, where political prisoners are subject to various methods of torture it is very easy for the authorities to rob them of various parts of their bodies. 
Pressure or the use of force in this respect is absolutely forbidden. The blood and organ donation also earn rich reward from Allah because, He attaches great values the human life. Some times blood transfusion is the only way to save the life of a person badly injured in an accident, or needing blood for an operation. Some people with blood diseases need blood transfusion on regular basis. 
The medical science has not advanced to the level as yet, where in the blood cannot be manufactured outside the human body. The only way to get blood is through donation and transfusion. Hence people are encouraged to donate blood. It is permitted for a Muslim to donate blood to a non-Muslim or vice versa on humanitarian grounds. It is also allowed to transplant organs between people of different faiths or to utilize the organs of animals (excluding pigs) for transplantation into human bodies if that is likely to prolong the life of the recipient.


If the kidney or an organ is donated after the death of the donor, the transplant is also permissible:

Islam teaches us to respect the body of any dead person. Narrated Aysha, Ummul Mu'minin: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “To break the bone of a dead person is the same as breaking the bone of a living person.” (Sunan of Abu Dawood, Hadith.1417). This means that Islam views any disfigurement of the corpse as a punishable crime. This idea of respecting the dead body is well instilled in the minds of the Muslims so much so, that examples of any disfigurement of dead enemy soldiers is not found in the history of Islam, as often happens in wars. However this principle is overridden by a well-defined interest of the community. Leading scholars mention that if a person swallows something valuable which does not belong to him, say a diamond ring, and he dies afterward, it is permissible to open up his tummy in order to retrieve that diamond ring and give it back to its owner. Moreover, if a group of unbelievers fighting the Muslim state take a Muslim hostage or make use of him as a shield to protect themselves, it is permissible to kill that Muslim person if killing him is the only way to overcome those unbelievers. Working on these principles, contemporary scholars agree that organ transplant operations are permissible. 
The interest that such operations serve is quite obvious. Such operations do not involve any disrespect to the dead. Indeed they are done with the greatest respect to the donor. The family of the deceased is considered the owner of his body. Their permission is necessary for using any part of the body of the dead person for transplantation, unless he has indicated during his life that he is willing for his body to be used for transplantation. In order to establish the cause of death and the possibility of any crime having been committed, postmortem is permissible. It is also acceptable that a postmortem is carried on a dead person if in the opinion of the qualified doctors such a postmortem may help in curing similar cases of illness.

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