Is it legal in Saudi Arabia to donate human organs?

Organ transplantation is a great milestone in the evolution of medical science. It is serving the mankind across the globe. In Saudi Arabia where Shariah law prevails, transplantation and donation of human organs are permissible and is being governed by specific legislation. The Saudi government has taken major steps to encourage the people to donate the organs. The patients in need of organs to be transplanted had to wait for long but now a huge number of donations has reduced the wait. Saudi people are now donating more organs and it shows that they have overcome their concerns about organ donations. Organ transplant started in 1981 in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the approval of Board of Senior Scholars’. Crown Prince Salman established a center to coordinate organ donation two years later.[irp]

According to the sources director general of the Saudi Center for Organ Transplantation (SCOT), Dr. Faisal Shaheen told that transplant operations have increased with a remarkable percentage in brain dead patients. Many families give consent for organ donation even if they don’t have any knowledge about the deceased opinion. There is a clear increase in a number of cases in which organs were removed from the human bodies for the purposes of transplant. A number of kidney transplant operations was 527 from 2003 to 2007. It is increased to 673 operations (total from 2003 to 2012) in 2012. In the same way, Liver transplants numbered 175 and then increased to 271 in 2012. Heart transplants that numbered only 42 between 2003 and 2007 increased to 94 during the last five years.

Only eight pancreas transplants were performed. All these facts show a great deal of improvement in doctors' awareness and the performance of hospitals’ intensive care units responsible for reporting potential cases to the center. Another medical consultant in Saudi Arabia says that the awareness about the transplantation is increased, however, organ trafficking is a matter of serious concern. The donations shall be controlled by a specific body of specialists so that donations and the transplant operations can be coordinated and the involvement of commercialization can be restricted Religious scholars are also needed to play their role in order to spread awareness about organ donation. There is a gap between a number of donations and the organs needed.[irp]

Religious scholars shall tell the people that organ donation is a great deed, “Sadaqa Jariah” in Shariah terms. There is a great reward for those who save lives of other human beings. The transplantation process contains great efforts on the part of doctors as well. They make sure that organ transplantation will not hurt the life of the donor. All the process is done under the supervision of specialist medical practitioners.

Officials say that the Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia follows the World Health Organization’s criteria to make sure that the process of donation of organs is being performed within the restrictions of morality and the medical science. A better health care for patients and preservation of the rights of donors is also an important task. It is to make sure that the decision to donate organs by an alive human being is made voluntarily and the donor was not pressurized for this. On the other hand, in the case of donation after death, it is to be confirmed that the deceased made this decision in his life and has not opposed the donation of the organ after death if it was his family’s decision. Social media is also playing a vital role in spreading awareness and removing myths about organ donation. A new tool is launched by facebook it is named as Organ Donor. They have the aim of encouraging 900 million users to help and save the lives of patients all over the world through organ donation so that thousands of deaths across the globe can be prevented every year because of the lack of organ donors.

The Saudi government is also taking vital steps to encourage the donation of human organs “A donor, alive or dead, is honored by being granted King Abdul Aziz Medal in addition to a financial award. He is also granted a lifetime discount on Saudi Arabian Airlines tickets and a free periodic medical follow-up is also provided at the facility where the donation took place.