The organ donation law has now changed. The 'opt out' system for organ donation started in England from yesterday (19th May 2020). The new system is likely to result in 700 extra transplants a year by 2023. So what does this mean for you? Unless you have recorded a decision to opt out, are in an excluded group or have nominated someone to make a donation decision for you, it will be considered that you have agreed to donate your organs. The excluded groups are:

  • People under 18
  • People who lack the capacity to understand the change
  • People who have lived in England for less than 12 months or who are not living in England voluntarily

I have seen various Facebook discussion and Whats App messages trying to panic people into opting out rather than encouraging people to be organ donors. I find this strange because aren't we meant to be promoting saving lives? It seems as if we selectively quote Quran 5:32 ..whoever saves one - it is as if he had saved mankind entirely when we want to show the beauty of Islam.

I have chosen to be an organ donor and I did so when I renewed my driving license a few months ago. I was sent the donor card, which is shown in the image with this post. I carry it around with me and I have also informed my family too! In fact I have also asked them if they would like to donate their organs should anything happen to them. It's important to have these conversations with loved ones and also to ensure you tell your wishes to your family. If after giving it a lot of thought (and I hope you do) then if you really do not want to donate organs then you can opt out by going online to the appropriate website here:

https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/register-your-decision/refuse-to-donate/refuse-donation-form/

If a loved one does unfortunately pass away during the COVID-19 pandemic and you did not get the chance to have that conversation, then you don't have to worry because the government has acknowledged that donation is unlikely to proceed under 'deemed consent' (in England) because they accept that due to social distancing, communication between relevant parties will have been more challenging and people may not have made their wishes known.

 I feel some people are hiding behind Islam as a reason not to donate because if they really wanted to they could justify it within Islam. How many times has God told us about His compassion in the Quran and in His 99 attributes? We are supposed to be inspired by His words and His attributes.

So why are some Muslims not willing to donate their organs after they die? Judging from some people whom I have spoken to, social media posts and the Whats App messages circulating to panic people, the reluctance to donate seems less to do with Islam and more to do with selfishness. I feel some people are hiding behind Islam as a reason not to donate because if they really wanted to they could justify it within Islam. How many times has God told us about His compassion in the Quran and in His 99 attributes? We are supposed to be inspired by His words and His attributes. It's a shame some people lack that compassion towards others. As far as I know there is no consensus amongst religious scholars on organ donation, which is a shame. However, if they cannot agree on simple issues such as dates for start of Ramadan or Eid then we have no hope for more complex topics such as this. Some scholars are against organ donation because they say it amounts to the mutilation of the body after death. However, others are in agreement with organ donation because it results in saving human life. So really it boils down to which human interpretation one wants to follow, which then becomes a very personal thing. When I took the decision to donate I was inspire by the following verse in the Quran 39:18 - Those who listen to the Word, and follow the best (meaning) in it: those are the ones whom Allah has guided, and those are the ones endued with understanding.

Those who will be opting out of organ donation are probably going to want someone else's organ if they or a loved one was dying and needed it. So Muslims (and others too) cannot say on one hand that I don't want to donate on religious grounds (or other grounds) and then thinks it's okay to accept an organ because surely any religious justifications should work both ways. I do acknowledge that some may not want to donate or object to organ donation of a deceased family member for other reasons such as it adding extra trauma to an already grieving family. There are of course others who may not like the idea of donating after their death but may not mind being a living donor e.g. giving a kidney to a family or friend. I feel this issue needs a lot more discussion and would love to hear what others think, have I been too critical of those who do not want to donate their organs?

For those of you who are unsure about your decision and want to know more what Islam says about organ donations, then check out these videos on

Youtube.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLjl4wHu2TagPtfYFYgym-5C0QoPJMAita

You can also check out Muslim Women's Network UK response when the government was consulting on this issue two years ago:

https://www.mwnuk.co.uk/resourcesDetail.php?id=194

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