Question # 420: What is the Islamic opinion about Organ Transplantation (especially kidney)?

bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: According to the preponderant opinion of contemporary scholars, it is permissible to donate organs by a living person provided the following shar’i conditions are fulfilled:

  • The donation will not lead to the death of the donor (by donating singular organs such as transplanting heart or liver).
  • The donation will not cause the essential function to cease, even though the life of the donor does not depend on it, such as taking corneas of both eyes. The matter pertaining to partial function [or side effects] after removal is subject to further discussion. (see note below)
  • The donor gives his/her organ without any compulsion.
  • The transplantation should be the ultimate and only treatment for the sick person.
  • The agreement on the permissibility of organ transplants is not done by selling the organs. As for the beneficiary spending money in order to obtain the required organ where necessary, is subject to ijtihaad and further discussion.
  • The probability of the success of the operation should be very high or certain from the surgical point of view.

Also Refer Question # 50: Donating organs after death.

Note: As for donating one kidney, according to National Kidney Foundation, people can live normal lives with only one kidney and the life expectancy is not impacted; however, it’s important for donor to avoid contact sports activities in future to safeguard from injuries. Donors should have good long-term medical follow-up with their doctors. Some studies have reported that living donors may have a greater chance of developing high blood pressure, Proteinuria and reduced kidney function or rare long-term problems with pain, nerve damage, hernia or intestinal obstruction. Hence, from the medical point of view, the well-being of the donors, post-donation, depend on their individual health history and the opinion of trustworthy doctors of their suitability to donate.

Long Answer: The (scholarly) view that it is permissible to donate organs is most likely to be the correct view, so long as the donation will not lead to the death of the donor.

The following resolutions were issued after lengthy discussions among a number of fuqaha’, doctors and specialists by The Islamic Fiqh Council of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (Note: Only the excerpt of the resolutions as it relates to the question asked is mentioned herein)

In statement no. 26 concerning one person benefiting from the body parts of another, living or dead, it says:

The Islamic Fiqh Council which convened in the fourth conference in Jeddah in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from 18-23 Safar 1408 AH/6-11 February 1988 CE, after studying fiqhi and medical research submitted to the Council concerning the issue of one person benefiting from the body parts of another, living or dead, has determined the following:

In the light of the discussions that highlighted the fact that this issue is something that come about as the result of by scientific and medical advances, with clear positive results that in many cases are accompanied by psychological and social harm if it is practiced without shar’i guidelines and controls that protect human dignity and also seek to achieve the aims of shari’ah which tries to achieve all that is good and in the best interests of individuals and societies and promotes cooperation, compassion and selflessness.

And after highlighting the main points of this topic whereby it may be discussed and categorized, the following was determined:

With regard to definition:

Firstly: What is meant here by ‘organ’ is any part of a person, be it tissues, cells, blood and so on, such as the cornea, whether it is still attached or has been separated.

Secondly: The use or benefit that is under discussion is a benefit that is dictated by necessity in order to keep the beneficiary alive or to keep some essential or basic function of his body working, such as his sight and so on, provided that the beneficiary is one whose life is protected by shari’ah.

Thirdly: These kinds of benefit or use are divided into three categories:

  1. Transplant of organ from a living person (Note: As mentioned above, we will only present this part in our answer)
  2. Transplant of organ from a dead person
  3. Transplant from a fetus

The first category, which is transplant of an organ from a living person, includes the following:

  • Transplant of an organ from one place in the body to another place in the same body, such as transplanting skin, cartilage, bone, veins, blood and so on.
  • Transplant of an organ from the body of a living person to the body of another person. Organs in this case may be divided into those on which life depends and those on which life does not depend. With regard to those on which life depends, they may singular organs, of which there is only one in the body, or there may be more than one. The former includes organs such as the heart and liver, and the latter includes organs such as the kidneys and lungs.

As for those on which life does not depend, there are some that control basic functions in the body and some that do not. There are some that are renewed automatically, such as blood, and some that are not; there are some that have an effect on offspring and on the genetic makeup and personality of the individual, such as testicles, ovaries and cells of the nervous system, and some that do not have any such effect…

With regard to shar’i rulings: …

  1. It is haraam to transplant an organ on which life depends, such as transplanting the heart from a living person to another person.
  1. It is haraam to transplant an organ from a living person when its removal may cause an essential function to cease, even though his life does not depend on it, such as taking the corneas of both eyes. But if he will still have partial function after removing it, then the matter is subject to further discussion as we shall see below in section 8…
  1. It should be noted that the agreement on the permissibility of organ transplants explained above is subject to the condition that this is not done by selling the organs, because it is not permissible to subject human organs to sale under any circumstances. As for the beneficiary spending money in order to obtain the required organ where necessary or offering compensation or honoring the donor, this is subject to ijtihaad and further discussion.
  1. All cases having to do with this topic are subject to further research and discussion, and they should be studied and discussed in a future session in the light of medical data and shar’i And Allah knows best.

(The above reply is based on answer provided by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid on the topic)

The assembly of the Islamic Fiqh Council of the World Islamic Conference which was held in Makkah in 1405 AH issued the following Fatwa about organ donation: Taking an organ of the body of a living person and planting it in the body of another living person to save his/her life or to restore the function of one of his/her essential organs is lawful and even considered a good deed provided the following conditions are met: 1) That the amputation of this organ does not harm the donor or cause clear disadvantages in him/her life. 2) That the donor gives his/her organ without any compulsion. 3) That the amputation of this organ is the only way available to treat this sick person. 4) That the success of both the amputation and plantation operations be reasonably or most probably certain. It is also a condition that the one to whom the organ is donated be a Muslim or a Kafir (infidel) who is not at war with Muslims. (Islamweb.net, a web site belonging to the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in the State of Qatar)

As for donating one kidney, the following information from National Kidney Foundation is worth noting: “People can live normal lives with only one kidney. As long as the donor is evaluated thoroughly and cleared for donation, he or she can lead a normal life after the surgery. When the kidney is removed, the single normal kidney will increase in size to compensate for the loss of the donated kidney. Physical exercise is healthy and good for [the donor]. However, it’s important for someone with only one kidney to be careful and protect it from injury. Some doctors think it is best to avoid contact sports like football, boxing, hockey, soccer, martial arts, or wrestling. Wearing protective gear such as padded vests under clothing can help protect the kidney from injury during sports. This can help lessen the risk, but it won’t take away the risk… Donors are encouraged to have good long-term medical follow-up with their primary care doctors. A urine test, a blood pressure check and a blood test for kidney function (GFR) should be done every year… [Further,] living donation does not change life expectancy, and does not appear to increase the risk of kidney failure. In general, most people with a single normal kidney have few or no problems; however, [the donor] should always talk to the transplant team about the risks involved in donation. Some studies report that living donors may have a greater chance of developing high blood pressure. It is recommended that potential donors consult with their doctor about the risks of living donation… Some donors have reported long-term problems with pain, nerve damage, hernia or intestinal obstruction. These risks seem to be rare, but there are currently no national statistics on the frequency of these problems. In addition, people with one kidney may be at a greater risk of: high blood pressure, Proteinuria and Reduced kidney function…” (//www.kidney.org/transplantation/livingdonors/what-expect-after-donation)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam