Transplantation ethics from the Islamic point of view

Med Sci Monit. 2005 Apr;11(4):RA105-9. Epub 2005 Mar 24.


Organ transplantation has been transformed from an experimental procedure at Western academic centers to an increasingly common procedure in private and public hospitals throughout the world. Attendant with advancements in organ harvesting, preservation, and transplantation come moral issues. Islam is a holistic religion that takes into account social affairs of man as well as spiritual ones. Islam has a long history of ethics literature including the subgenre of medical ethics. Historical considerations are discussed as to why Muslim thinkers were late to consider contemporary medical issues such as organ donation. Islam respects life and values the needs of the living over the dead, thus allowing organ donation to be considered in certain circumstances. The sources of Islamic law are discussed in brief in order for non-Muslims to appreciate how the parameters of organ transplantation are derived. The Islamic viewpoint, both Shiite and Sunni, is examined in relation to organ donation and its various sources. The advantages and disadvantages of brain dead and cadaveric donation is reviewed with technical and ethical considerations. The Islamic concept of brain death, informed and proxy consent are also discussed. We discuss the concept of rewarded donation as a way to alleviate the current shortage of organs available for transplantation and consider secular and religious support for such a program. Suggestions are made for greater discussion and exchange of ideas between secular and religious thinkers in the Islamic world and between the Islamic world and secular Western countries.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Death
  • Ethics, Medical
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent
  • Iran
  • Islam*
  • Living Donors / ethics
  • Living Donors / supply & distribution
  • Organ Transplantation / ethics*
  • Tissue Donors / ethics
  • Tissue Donors / supply & distribution
  • Tissue and Organ Harvesting / ethics