Organ transplant - Image Courtesy: CMSRC

A new law allows transplantation of human organs and tissues also from deceased donors  in UAE

A ministerial decree gives hope to thousands of individuals on waiting lists in UAE. The new decree on declaration of death (defined as brain death) provides a definition of death in respect with fatwas (Islamic rulings) according to the guidelines given by the councils of senior scholars in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait and other Islamic nations. It includes three essential provisions regarding death from cardiac-respiratory arrest, from complete loss of brain functions and pediatric brain death guidelines.

President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan announced that, thanks to this decree, it will now be possible to operate organ transplants also from dead donors and not only from living ones, as now allowed. The new norm will take effect from March 2018, six months after its publication on the official gazette.

This can be considered a real breakthrough in the health system of the area whose aim is also to fight against illegal organ transplant procedures. The law indeed prohibits the sale of human organs, tissues or other body parts for the purpose of transplantation and it bans unlicensed advertising.

The National Survey on Organ Donation and Transplant, conducted by the Mohammad Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU), shows that nearly 68 per cent of the interviewed are willing to donate in the event they became brain-dead. The survey was made with 500 respondents above 18 years of age.

Given that kidneys are the most commonly transplanted organs, worldwide, the survey showed that over 2,000 kidney patients on dialysis in the UAE are in waiting list for kidney transplants. It must be considered that live donor transplants from a close relative are already being performed in the country, but it is restricted only to relatives within the fourth degree and couples married for at least two years.

To become donor, people can record their decision on the Emirates Identity Card but also a special card may be issued. The donors can retract their decision at any time before death and no organ or tissue can be removed from the deceased if there was a clear rejection of the same while still alive. The law provides that the identity of the donor and recipient remain confidential.

This is a law that also aims to boost UAE’s medical tourism and hopefully this should encourage investments in international centers specialized in organ transplants.

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