Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Transplant Dilemma

June 30, 2008 · Filed Under Community, Ethics

For many humanists the question of organ donation and transplantation doesn’t take much thinking about. It’s fair to say most humanists would gladly donate their organs after their death to save the life of another human being.

Perhaps this goes to the core of our belief in having the one life, where we work for the benefit for all humankind even in death?

For Hanif Mohammed in Reading this did not present such a clear cut choice. As a follower of Islam he had to consult his Imam to ensure it was ok for him to receive a kidney from a transplant donor. You can listen to the interview with Andrew Peach on BBC Radio (Requires RealPlayer).

As a humanist, I would hope that should I get run over by a bus tomorrow, any organs which can be salvaged to save another should be used in this way. I am on the organ donor register, and I have expressed my wishes to my wife and other family members to ensure they are carried out. When I make that commitment to help my fellow humans, I do it indiscriminately. I have placed no special conditions on the giving of my organs and so provide maximum potential benefit.

Having listened to the interview with Hanif, it was interesting to hear that during the discussion he took no time to consider the wishes of the donor, or the donors family. In a time of grief these people had the capacity to think of another suffering human being, the ultimate expression of compassion and human love. Of course we would never wish to force organ transplants on people where their conscience does not permit it. However it is important to realise this is not simply meat on a slab, but the act of one human saving the life of another.

It is fortunate that Hanif was able to benefit from the generosity and compassion of his donor, so let us hope a progressive Islam will support organ donations and transplantation more widely. I wonder if he will ever find out what kind of person the donor was?

If you would like to know more about organ donation visit UK Transplant’s web site.

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