10 years ago, 2,000 people were registered as organ donors in Qatar. Today, 500,000 residents and nationals in the country have signed the post-mortem organ donation form.
Five hundred thousand people in Qatar have registered to donate their organs.
In an interview on Qatar TV Dr Yousef Al-Maslamani, the Medical Director of Hamad General Hospital (HMC) and Director of the Qatar Center for Organ Transplantation, said that around 500,000 potential donors in the country have registered with Qatar’s Organ Donor Registry.
Al-Maslamani said that this number is high, especially in relation to the country’s 2.8 million population, where donors now make up almost 17% of its total.
What does it mean to be a donor?
Organ donors are individuals who voluntarily give an organ to help someone that is in crucial need of a replacement, whether it is a relative, friend, or a stranger. Some organs such as kidneys or specific liver parts can be donated while a person is still alive. However, others can only be given away by donors once they have passed away.
Deceased donors can donate six types of organs: kidneys, pancreas, liver, lungs, heart and intestines. They can also donate bones, skin, heart valves, veins and corneas. If an individual donates all their organs, they can save up to eight lives.
All of the transplant procedures by HMC are conducted under the Doha Donation Accord, which has received endorsement from the International Transplantation Society and the Istanbul Declaration Custodian Group.
The organ transplant medical field in Qatar is evolving. Last June, HMC introduced their lung transplant program, and had the first successful lung transplant operation in the country.
In the gulf state, all procedures related to organ donation and transplantation to patients are free of charge for both residents and nationals. It also has one waiting list for organ transplants for both citizens and residents.
In 2020, the average cost for a kidney transplant in the United States was around $442,500.
Religious and cultural stigma
Despite the increasing need for donated organs, being a donor has cultural and religious stigma attached.
Most Islamic schools of thought accept organ donation during life, provided it does not harm the donor, and after death to save lives. “Organ donation from the living and the donation from the brain-dead are halal,” said Dr Al-Maslamani, who had asked the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs to raise the issue in his last meeting with them. “They said that it is over, and there are several jurisprudence councils that said that this matter is permissible.”
How it works
All Qatar residents can register with the Organ Donor Registry at the Qatar Organ Donation Center while they are alive to receive an official ‘donor card’. This card acts as a form of identification to confirm to others that the individual, in the event of his or her death, is an organ donor.
Organ donation offices are scattered around malls in Doha. Those interested in registering must sign a form. There must be two witnesses available during the time of the signing, as the signature on the document is considered a will as per Qatari law and treated as such.
As of now, family members have the ability to overturn a donor’s decision after their death. If such a case occurs, the donation center first tries to convince the family by reminding them that this is considered a part of the deceased’s will.
However the refusal of one family member is enough to overturn the decision of an organ donation.