Rulings on organ & stem cells donation.

Question:

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakaatuhu

My question is concerning organ donation inshaaAllah.

Excluding the type where someone dies and ‘leaves their organs for donation’ without necessity or for research since I presume this is haraam.

The question is more so for the following critical cases:

•Bone marrow & stem cell donation- life/death scenario for the recipient, a familial donor match is available, willing and the procedure will not cause harm or death to the donor.

•Whole blood- life/death scenario for the recipient, donors are available, willing and the procedure will not cause harm or death to the donor and a deposit in the blood bank is needed by the donor in order for the recipient to receive blood from the bank (meaning that the intended recipient will not necessarily receive that particular donor’s blood)

•Living donations (organ or tissue) that alhamdulillah due to advances in the field of science & medicine are safe to transplant without harm to the donor E.g. 1 kidney, portions of liver, lung, bone, tendons etc – life/death scenario for the recipient, a donor is available, willing and the procedure will not cause long term harm or death of the donor.

These questions are all with respect to the donor.

Conversely what would be the affair of the recipient to whom the above donations are necessary for:

-The preservation of life

-An improved quality of life

I hope the questions are clear InshaaAllah.

Salaams

Answer:

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

Allah Ta’ālā says in the Quran:

وَلَقَدْ كَرَّمْنَا بَنِي آدَمَ وَحَمَلْنَاهُمْ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ وَرَزَقْنَاهُمْ مِنَ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَفَضَّلْنَاهُمْ عَلَى كَثِيرٍ مِمَّنْ خَلَقْنَا تَفْضِيلًا

Translation: “And We bestowed dignity on the children of ‘Adam and provided them with rides on the land and in the sea, and provided them with a variety of good things and made them much superior to many of those We created.” Surah al-Isrā :70

Allah Ta’ala has bestowed mankind with the highest status from all His creations and has made mankind superior over all others. Therefore, on the grounds of the sanctity of the human body Fuqaha (Jurists) have ruled that generally organ transplants is prohibited[1].

If organ transplants were generally permitted then it would lead to disrespect of the human body, it would be commercialized and overall harm society and exploit the poor. The problem of illegal organ trafficking is widespread. The life bestowed to man is a Divine loan. To harm it or destroy it is a grave sin.

However, Shari’ah takes in consideration both needs and requirements.  It is necessary to adopt methods and treatments in which one’s life can be saved.

Various contemporary Fuqaha (Jurists) have ruled that under certain conditions, due to necessity, the modern organ transplant would be permissible[2].

  • It is permitted to transplant or graft an organ from one place of a person’s body to another, so long as one is certain that the benefits of this operation outweigh any harm that may result from it, and on the condition that this is done to replace something that has been lost, or to restore its appearance or regular function, or to correct some fault or disfigurement which is causing great physical or psychological distress.
  • It is unlawful (haram) to take an organ from a living person, when doing so could damage an essential and vital function in his body.
  • It is permitted to transplant an organ from one person’s body to another, if it is an organ that can regenerate itself, such as skin and blood, provided that the donor is mature and fully understands what he is doing.
  • The organ must not be sold. It is not permitted to trade in human organs under any circumstance.
  • There should be no other reasonable alternative available in the view of experienced medical experts.

Bone Marrow. According to various researches, there are alternatives to bone marrow donation from donors. There are new medical techniques available that use either the very same patient’s marrow or his blood to assist in the production of new marrow. If such is the case then it will not be permissible to donate one’s bone marrow to another patient.

Perinatal stem cells. The medical procedure of taking blood from the umbilical cord is the same as when blood is donated. Contemporary Fuqahaa have permitted blood donation due to the following two juridical maxims:

الضرورات تبيح المحظورات

“Necessity legalizes prohibitions”

الشئ اذا ثبت، ثبت بلوازمه

“When something is established, it is established with its inherent properties”

It will be permissible to donate the blood of the umbilical cord as normal blood is donated if there is an established need. If there is no established need then it is not permissible to donate the blood of the umbilical cord. Accordingly, it is not permissible to donate the blood of the umbilical cord merely for research purposes or for future sicknesses

N.B. The umbilical cord must be respected and buried. The habitual practice of the Sahaba (RadiyAllahu Anhum) was to bury as well. It is stated in Hadith:

عن ابن عمر قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ادفنوا الاظفار والشعر والدم

“Ibn Umar (RadiyAllahu Anhu) says that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said: Bury nails, hair, and blood.” (Sunan al-Kubra Al-Bayhaqee)

Embryonic stem cells. As for experimentation or donation of embryonic stem cells, it will not be permissible to do so as the embryo is derived from the human body which is sacred in Islam.

It is also understood that in order to derive stem cells from an embryo, the embryo must be destroyed. Although this cannot be called abortion, it is considered a disliked act since the destruction of an embryo for stem cell research is the destruction of the life of a potential child. According to the Shari’ah even if a fetus expires before the period of 120 days in pregnancy[3] (a fetus will be considered a human after 120 days since it will have developed organs and limbs by then), then the fetus will still be buried and treated with respect. Therefore, it is understood that experimenting with the embryo will be tampering with what is derived from the human body. [4]

In conclusion, it is not permissible to benefit from the embryo for the sake of embryonic stem cell research or to benefit from otherwise from an embryo. It is also not permissible to experiment on them since it is tampering with parts derived from the human body.

Upon availability, it is permitted to transplant an organ from a dead person to a living person when his life depends on receiving that organ or when vital functions of his body are otherwise impaired, requiring the kin of the deceased does not object. All efforts should be made to avoid transplanting of a non-Muslim’s organ into a Muslim and vice versa.

NB: However, as each case differs from the other, clarification from reliable Ulama should be sought for each specific case.

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Mufti Arshad Ali

Darul Iftaa, Jaamia Madinatul Uloom (Trinidad)

www.fatwa-tt.com /www.jaamia.net


[1] قال ( وَشَعْرِ الْإِنْسَانِ ) يَعْنِي لَا يَجُوزُ بَيْعُ شَعْرِ الْإِنْسَانِ وَالِانْتِفَاعُ بِهِ لِأَنَّ الْآدَمِيَّ مُكَرَّمٌ فَلَا يَجُوزُ أَنْ يَكُونَ جُزْؤُهُ مُهَانًا , وقال عليه السَّلَامُ { لَعَنَ اللَّهُ الْوَاصِلَةَ وَالْمُسْتَوْصِلَةَ } , وَإِنَّمَا لُعِنَا لِلِانْتِفَاعِ بِهِ لِمَا فيه من إهَانَةِ الْمُكَرَّمِ.(تبين الحقائق ص51 ج4)

[2] وَيُبَاحُ له بِالْإِكْرَاهِ أَكْلُ الْمَيْتَةِ وَشُرْبُ الْخَمْرِ وَيُرَخَّصُ له بِإِجْرَاءِ كَلِمَةِ الْكُفْر(البحر الرائق ص80 ج8 دار المعرفة )

ولو أن حاملا ماتت وفي بطنها ولد يضطرب فإن كان غالب الظن أنه ولد حي وهو في مدة يعيش غالبا فإنه يشق بطنها لأن فيه إحياء الآدمي بترك تعظيم الآدمي وترك التعظيم أهون من مباشرة سبب الموت.(تحفة الفقهاء ص345 ج3)

الضَّرُورَاتُ تُبِيحُ الْمَحْظُورَاتِ(الأشباه و النظائر ص85)

مجلس مجمع الفقه الإسلامي المنعقد في دورة مؤتمره الرابع بجدة في المملكة العربية السعودية من 18-23 جمادى الآخرة 1408هـ،الموافق 6-11 فبراير 1988م

[3] مَطْلَبٌ فِي حُكْمِ إسْقَاطِ الْحَمْلِ1

(قَوْلُهُ وَقَالُوا إلَخْ) قَالَ فِي النَّهْرِ: بَقِيَ هَلْ يُبَاحُ الْإِسْقَاطُ بَعْدَ الْحَمْلِ؟ نَعَمْ يُبَاحُ مَا لَمْ يَتَخَلَّقْ مِنْهُ شَيْءٌ وَلَنْ يَكُونَ ذَلِكَ إلَّا بَعْدَ مِائَةٍ وَعِشْرِينَ يَوْمًا، وَهَذَا يَقْتَضِي أَنَّهُمْ أَرَادُوا بِالتَّخْلِيقِ نَفْخَ الرُّوحِ وَإِلَّا فَهُوَ غَلَطٌ الدر المختار وحاشية ابن عابدين (رد المحتار) (3/176)

يبح لها أن تعالج في استنزال الدم ما دام نطفة أو علقة أو مضغة لم يخلق له عضو(التاترخانية 4/374

[4] http://askimam.org/public/question_detail/17594