Is organ donation, organ transplant permissible?

Details of the Question
What does islam say about organ donation? Is it permissable to receive an organ? Can a muslim be an organ donor?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Some things that are not normally permissible become permissible in the case of extreme necessity. For instance, if the child in the abdomen of a dead pregnant woman is alive, the abdomen of the woman is cut open on the left side and the child is taken out. Although one part of a dead person is removed, actually the life of another living being is saved.1
Acting upon that religious decree, the scholars of today regard organ transplant permissible. Here, one of the organs of a dead person is removed and transplanted into a patient in order to save him from death or losing one of his organs. That kind of an operation is usually made for organs like kidneys, hearts and eyes.
Ahmad ash-Shirbasi, an al-Azhar scholar, who explains the issue in detail, says that it is definitely necessary to take some principles into consideration and to act accordingly. First of all, the transplantation should be done due to a vital obligation. In its general sense, transplantation is a kind of treatment. It is a well-known rule that extreme necessity makes some harams permissible.
When there is extreme necessity, it is necessary that a diagnosis be made stating that the vital risk that the patient is under can only be removed by organ transplant and the patient will definitely or probably be saved after the operation. That is, the operation should be the last resort and the hope of being saved should be definite or probable. Doubtless to say, the diagnosis should be made by a specialist or a medical board not by ordinary people.
The person whose heart, kidney or eye to be removed should donate his organs while he is alive or there should be a letter of consent stating that his organs can be removed if necessary when he dies. If the person who died had not said anything like that to his relatives when he was alive, then, his relatives or inheritors should give consent. In addition, if the person who died had written in his will or had said “Do not touch my body when I die”, then his will should be observed.
The person whose organ is to be removed should be dead definitely. It is not permissible to remove the organ of a living person like his heart whose removal will cause his death and to transplant it into another person. The organs of a patient who is thought to die soon cannot be removed, either. There were many cases in which the doctors stated that the patient would definitely die but then the patient survived and recovered. Therefore, it is not permissible to remove the organ of a patient in his deathbed thinking that “he will die, anyway” and transplant it into another patient.
If a living person decides to donate one of his two kidneys to a patient who is about to die, he can give it under the following condition: it should be determined definitely that the person donating his kidney should not have any medical risk or face any harm at that time and in the future. Here, saving the life of a person is in question; and since the person donating his kidney will not face any risk, there is no drawback to it. That donation is a kind of sacrificing.
The consent of the person to be operated on should be taken. Without his knowledge and his signature, the operation is not possible and it is not permissible religiously.
The important thing that Islam takes into consideration regarding the issue is the aim to save the life of a person because one of the principles of the religion is “the preservation of life”. The meaning of the verse stating that saving the life of a person is like saving the life of the whole people is as follows: “if anyone slew a person―unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land― it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if anyone saved a life it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people..”2 The scholars of the recent times said it was permissible to transfuse blood into patients and people who lost a lot of blood acting upon that verse. Even the blood taken from a non-Muslim is permissible.3
However, the person who donates his organ, the person who donates his kidney while he is alive and the person donating blood must not receive any money or demand anything in return for his donation by any means. Man and parts of man are not things that can be sold whenever one wants and that can be used for a benefit. Therefore, it is not permissible to receive any money for the organ or blood that is donated because of an extreme necessity.
By the way, let us explain another aspect of the issue that is frequently asked:
The person who donates his organs like his eyes and kidney before he dies will definitely receive rewards when his organ is transplanted into a patient after he dies. It is because a person resumes his health and survives. However, the person who donates his organ is not held responsible for the actions that the person into whom his organ is transplanted does with his organ.
If a person who starts to see with someone else’s eye that has been transplanted into him and looks at haram things and commits sins, the responsibility belongs to that person. The person who died will not be held responsible. When he has died, he has completely been peeled off his body and he has finished his contact with the material body. 1. al-Ikhtiyar, 4: 167; Raddu’l-Mukhtar, 1: 602.
2. Chapter al-Maeda, 32.
3. Yas’alunaka Fi’d-Din wa’l-Hayah, 1: 604-608.
Mehmed Paksu Helal – Haram

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