More than 20,000 Qatar residents responded to call a sign up to be organ donors this summer, following a big registration push at a dozen malls around the country.
For the first time, residents who signed up over Ramadan could receive their organ donor card on the spot. According to Hamad Medical Corp., most of the newly signed up donors hailed from South Asian countries, including:
- India (9,456);
- Bangladesh (2,935);
- Philippines (2,803);
- Nepal (2,482); and
- Sri Lanka (2,383).
More than 1,000 donors also come from Arab countries, including Qatar.
In a statement, Dr. Riadh Fadhil, director of the Qatar Organ Donation Center (Hiba) at HMC, said:
“We now have 43,000 registrations from 108 nationalities. This represents almost five percent of the eligible population of Qatar which is a great achievement for the registry that started less than two years ago.”
Since the inception of Hiba in 2012, HMC has struggled to sign up Qatari donors because many were concerned about whether the practice is Islamically acceptable.
In late 2012, Dr. Yousuf Al Maslamani, head of the Organ Transplant Committee at HMC, said:
“About 99 percent of the donors in Qatar are expatriates because Qataris have not yet accepted the idea of organ donation.”
Nonetheless, the donor list got a big boost that year after then-first lady Sheikha Moza bint Nasser registered as a donor.
At the time, the Qatar Foundation chairperson said that her gesture, and that of other donors, was a step toward self-reliance, adding, “every single one of us must reflect seriously, as our religious duty demands, on how we can play a part in this effort.”
And according to HMC, multiple scholars have said organ donation is considered a high act of charity under Islam – provided that giving does not harm the donor, and that the organ is not sold, only donated.
Other major religions, including Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism and Hinduism, have also voiced no major objections to the practice.
This summer, Al Maslamani said that the transplant team in Qatar was struggling to keep up with the demand for organs.
Based on international figures, for a population of 2 million, he estimated that some 150 patients would be added to the renal failure list for new organs each year. He added:
“We need to do 25-30 transplants a year to achieve self-sufficiency. Currently we transplant less than one per month, so we need to double this number.”
Residents who cannot find a donor here often seek treatment abroad, which creates its own problems, healthcare officials have said.
According to the Supreme Council of Health, around 60 percent of patients who undergo such transplants abroad experience complications after returning to Qatar. Some 10 percent of those patients go back on dialysis, and another 10 percent die.
To make organ donation sound less daunting, Qatar set up the Doha Donation Accord this summer – an internationally renowned framework of polices and standards governing organ donation in the country.
The accord highlights some of the benefits of donating in Qatar, including:
- Organ donors and their families will receive a medal of honor from the highest authorities in Qatar;
- Living donors who give parts of their liver or a kidney will be afforded medical insurance for life, discounted tickets on Qatar Airways and compensation for loss of earnings during the period of organ donation, among other things; and
- The families of deceased organ donors will be provided a medal of honor, social care and support, free transfer of the body of the deceased to his home country, if desired, and free flights to accompany the body to his country of origin.
For more information about signing up to be an organ donor in Qatar, see HMC’s pamphlet here, which also includes a list of frequently asked questions.
For example, even if someone is a donor in their home country, the lists are not shared abroad, so they must register in Qatar to be a donor here.
Why don’t they tie this in with everyone getting their Qatari ID card renewed annually/every few years? That way it could be marked on their card and in the system that the individual was an organ donor. Simplify the process and I bet they would get a lot more folks to register. I’m an organ donor in my home country, but to be honest, even finding the time to get the oil changed in my car is a pain in the butt, so I’m unlikely to make a separate trip/effort for something like this, even though philosophically I’m on board with it.
I bet those who consider it to be unislamic to be a donor would be quite happy to accept an organ if their life was in danger.
Well done for Sheika Moza for showing the way again, many can learn by her example.
Sheika Moza is awesome, I have so much respect for her. I love the great example that she provides, and hope others follow in her footsteps.
I am a fan of Sheika Moza’s work. I think that she is a leading light in this region. I also believe that if you are not willing to donate an organ then you should not be entitled to receive one either. Obviously certain people are exempt for health reasons or age.
The numbers seem to be inline with the demographics…
Approximately 13% of the total population are Qatari nationals (based on estimates from the 2010 census), how is less than 1% of the total donations in line with demographics? Of course, the less than 1% cited by the report could be as low as 0.00001%, or even less. If you want to make up numbers, so can we.
The numbers above refer to the registrations this summer during Ramadan. Not the whole thing.
Also, 13% are Qataris, but a lot of them are children, too old or too sick. The Qatari:Non-Qatari ratio is very different at the edges. 20% are under 13 so that’s already only about 9%. Add on 13-18, 60+, and too sick and you’re left with maybe 4%
“If you want to make up numbers, so can we.”
Who exactly is we? Are you turning this into a Non-Qataris vs Qataris situation? If you don’t like it here just send me your phone number and I’ll speak to your modern-day slave owner to get him to allow you to go back to your country. Ingrate.
Signing up to be an organ donor is probably a newer concept in Qatar, so give them some time and surely more will sign up. Sheika Moza will hopefully help to alleviate some of their perceived concerns about cultural and/or religious issues.
I do believe being an organ donor is the right, ethical, and humanitarian thing to do, and I have been one since the day I turned 18 and was allowed to do so. But I grew up in a place where that was always viewed as acceptable. Let’s hope, with time, that more Qataris will sign up.
Let me get this straight….. So organ donation is OK within Islam as long as you don’t sell the organ right? But it’s OK for the (Islamic) Qatari government to offer prizes just for signing up and even more compensation for you and your family if/when your organ is used? How is this not selling organs? I appreciate the effort put onto this much needed endeavor, but does this look funny to anyone else?
There’s always a loophole
whatever it takes to make it acceptable I suppose…
That’s great! What happens if you’re an organ donor but the family refuses to? Will they respect your wishes or that of the grieving family?
I am a registered Organ, Blood and Bone Marrow donor in my home country. Why? Because it is the right thing, because if ever I or my loved one’s neede4d a donor, there is a chance that other like minded individuals had registered, and may save a life. The idea of offering free healthcare for life, compensation or other perks is absolutely WRONG in my opinion. We live in a country of Have’s and Have Not’s. Despite the misgivings of some abut donating I would bet my last penny they would be clamouring for the donation themselves, which will probably be from some poor guy who needs the money/ health care etc. Qatari’s already have free everything, so it clearly isn’t aimed at the Home crowd. Time to stand up and be counted, people,
Well stated. You covered everything I left out of my initial comment. There’s a song by Wilco called “I’ll Fight” about a rich guy that pays a poor family so that family’s father will go to war and die in the rich man’s place. I know it’s not the exact same situation in Qatar, but that song was ringing through my head when I read this article.
I agree with what you are saying, and organ donation should be a gift given for the right reasons because the donor truly believes it is the right thing to do for humanity. While I don’t agree with these “perks” Qatar is offering, I don’t believe that they are made with an ill-intent. I think they want to express appreciation, and I think they are trying to say, “you’ve taken care of one of us, so we want to take care of you”. I’m not saying I agree with it, but I think it is meant to be a form of gratitude. I suppose I’m just playing devils-advocate.
How many locals signed up? Or are we just taking advantage of the imported humans?
“About 99 percent of the donors in Qatar are expatriates because Qataris have not yet accepted the idea of organ donation.” in 2012 by Head of Transplant Commitee HMC . Can we get the statistics on how many Qataris have received an organ transplant compared to non Qataris since HH Sheikha Moza launched this drive ? I have nothing but praise for HH Sheikha Moza and her forward looking ideas but little can I say about those who donot see her vision for the country.
What if their visa is cancelled and there is a two years ban on the donor?
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