Reasons why organ donation is not supported by the society in Pakistan
The problem of organ donation has been witnessed worldwide because even when a family member needs an organ transplant, the relatives are not willing to donate. There are many reasons that lead to that such as age, gender difference and lack of education on the importance of organ transplant. There is little awareness about organ transplant where those who are willing to donate organs do not trust the doctors and suspect doctors are not professional enough to undertake the process successfully. This fear is caused by doctors who have not been following the right procedures during organ transplant. Differences in culture and religion also contribute to people refusing to donate organs. Some people admit they have not participated in organ donation because they have never been serious with the issue (Gerrand, 1994).
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In Pakistan, most people are Muslims and the religion encourages people to donate organs to save the lives of those that are needy. However, there is misinterpretation of this by Arabs who believe donation of organs is wrong and should be prohibited. This reason has prevented transplant of organs such as heart and kidney. Arabs believe that when people die they reincarnate and therefore it would be wrong to harm the body of somebody they loved as this would interfere with the process of reincarnation. Some Arabs also fear that at times doctors may go ahead and remove an organ from a potential donor without waiting for the donor to die first. Another reason why some Arabs are opposed to organ transplant is racial bias, which may lead to illegal trade and abuse of human rights (Schweda & Schicktanz, 2009).
Another fear of organ transplant is that it can lead to the process being carried out without consent of the potential donor or family members of the deceased. There is high regard for the opinion of parents and senior members in any family limiting children to sign cards for organ donation. Parents are also opposed to having their deceased children being mutilated. Many Arabs in Pakistan argue that when a person dies and parts of his or her body removed the process does not help the members of the deceased to recover from the grief in any way (Gerrand, 1994).
According to Arabs who are opposed to organ transplant, organ donation would also encourage financial incentives for people to be more willing, which is wrong according to their religious interpretation. However, most followers of Islam feel that the members of the believed family should be supported financially to cater for the burial expenses. Sometimes organ donation involves transplant of animal organs to human beings but Arabs are opposed to this especially when the animal involved is a pig, which according to their religion is not clean (Schweda & Schicktanz, 2009).
Some Arabs argue that there is no source in the Quran or literature about Islam traditions that addressed the issue of organ donation and therefore organ transplant should be prohibited. Due to misinterpretation by Arabs about Islam doctrines they consider organ donation non-Islamic because the body of the dead should be respected and handled with care. According to their ideologies, the body of the deceased must not be mutilated or harmed in any way and should be handled very gently. They believe that Human beings must be left to rest peacefully when they die without detaching them from any of their organs. Some Arabs argue that organs in a human being should not be perceived as spare parts of machines because this is against the will of Allah (Etzioni, 2003).
Some Arabs belief that Allah has the power to extend the life of any person He wants to live for more years. Allah also punishes those who He is not happy with and makes them to die. Having their organs donated to other people and making them continue living would be against the will of Allah according to the beliefs of Arabs. The belief that there is life after death makes the Arabs also oppose organ donation. When a person dies, he or she should be prepared for the eternal life but not mutilating the body and giving all the organs to other people. The opposing Arabs argue that organs are supposed to act as witness to communicate with Allah on the judgment day and if they are absent then there will be nothing to talk to Allah and therefore organ donation should be prohibited. Arabs argue that an organ may be removed from a good person and donated to a bad person before Allah. This would make the donor end up in hell therefore organ donation should end (Childress, 2008).
Islamic belief on organ transplant
In Islamic faith, organ transplant is allowed because it helps to treat a health condition, which is according to the teachings of Syari’ah that emphasise on the privileges of mankind and preservation of life in human beings. Allah requires people to save each other’s life because doing that would mean saving whole people except for the cases of where one kills the other in order to save another person. In this regard organ donation is regarded as another way of saving life and therefore permissible in the religion. However, during organ transplant, no harm should be committed on the donor or the recipient according to the maxim that one cannot eradicate harm in a person by introducing harm to another person or to the donor. Muslims are encouraged to donate organs to the needy people as a way of showing love (Etzioni, 2003).
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Allah always rewards those who donate or pledges to donate even before the organs are transplanted because the pledging donor is willing to help according to the Islamic principles. However, the organs are not supposed to be sold or hired even if they are meant to save the life of another person. Giving somebody else an organ to save his or her life is using the blessing Allah has bestowed to Muslims in the best way. Even though when Muslims die they should be buried immediately, delay for the burial is regarded as valid if it is for the purpose of transplanting the organ from the deceased to save another life. According to Prophet Muhammad, organ donation should be among all people even if it is between a Muslim and non-Muslim because even non-Muslims should co-exist harmoniously with the Muslims (Childress, 2008).
It is unfortunate that most Islamic religious leaders have been fighting against the true doctrines of the religion regarding organ donation. For example, Saleem Dada is a teacher of Islamiyat and claims that some countries have amended Islam doctrines for their own interests. He regards body mutilation as satanic as it changes the body shape, which represents Allah’s perfection in His work. He supports his argument with belief that organs usually fail on the recipient and maintaining them is also expensive because organ transplant is against the will of Allah. Another Shia scholar called Naqvi share the same opinion with Saleem and argues that organ donation is not Islamic. He says it is Godliness to donate blood as there is no surgery involved but organ transplant for the purpose of research or saving live of another person is against Islam (Etzioni, 2003).
Childress, J. (2008). Organ donation after circulatory determination of death: Lessons and unresolved controversies. Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, 36 (4), 766-771.
Etzioni, A. (2003). Organ donation: A communitarian approach. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, 13 (1), 1-18.
Gerrand, N. (1994). The notion of gift-giving and organ donation. Bioethics, 8 (2), 127–150.
Schweda, M. & Schicktanz, S. (2009). The “spare parts person”? conceptions of the human body and their implications for public attitudes towards organ donation and organ sale. Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine, 4 (1), 4.