25 Nov 2021 – Let’s Talk Organ Donation seminar was held in the London Muslim Centre in the collaboration with the British Islam Medical Association (BIMA) and the NHS Blood and Transplant Service. The event was a success, with a strong turnout of intrigued community members.

Over the last few years, the NHS Blood and Transplant service has facilitated conversations within the Muslim community, bringing together Islamic scholars, imams, umbrella organisations and Muslim chaplains to discuss organ donation and blood transfusions.

The seminar aimed to raise awareness in the community regarding organ donations. With the help of scholars, medical specialists, and Imams, the discussion debunked some of the myths surrounding organ donation.

Dilowar Khan, Director of Engagement at the East London Mosque, mentioned that a debate within the community has been going on for some time about the permissibility of organ donations. He said, “there is a confusion with our community whether organ donation is allowed, while there is a significant demand from Muslims communities for organ transplants.”

Guest speakers spoke on various vital issues demystifying organ donations in the community. 

Dr Sahira Dar, lead for BIMA Organ Donation, thanked the Mosque and Centre for facilitating such a critical discussion. She briefly spoke about what the BIMA was doing to further the conversation around organ donation and said, “it really does affect Muslims from all backgrounds.” She went on to say, “we are working on uniting healthcare professionals, surgeons, pharmacists and scholars to serve our communities.” 

Dr Omer Aziz (Children’s Intensive Care Consultant) spoke about the guidelines around opt-out and the medical perspective of organ donations. He said, “organ failure affects all of us in this room, and so it’s important to be discussing in our community.” Dr Omer added that regardless of the new law, which now automatically opts in the deceased for organ donations where possible, “your family will have the final say.”

Mr Muhammad Khurram (Transplant Surgeon) explored the theme of what happens during organ donation and transplantation for living and deceased donors. He clarified that “the process of donation is extremely safe” and that the “utmost care” is taken to protect potential donors. The overall process for organ donation is only triggered when the medical team knows that a person will not survive. Still, before then, all efforts are primarily focused on saving a patient’s life.

Shaykh Dr Mansur Ali (Islamic Scholar, Lecturer Cardiff University) explained the complex Islamic perspectives of organ donations and highlighted the fatwas that supported the cause. Dr Mansur said, “Organ transplantation is very eclectically ridden and causes us anxiety because it questions the very core of our [religious] identity.” He explained that there are seven Islamic positions that he can ascertain on organ donation permissibility. While they may be contradictory to one and another – there is no clear cut position – on organ donations from the Qur’an. However, one can interpret particular verses which would support the case for organ donations. Dr Mansur’s opinion on organ donation from a religious perspective is that “it is a choice” one can make to benefit themselves or others. At the same time, many scholars agree that it is Halal to donate and receive organs.

The event concluded with a Q&A session at the end where community members asked pertinent questions about organ donations. A woman shared a powerful testimony of how she was saved from kidney cancer at a young age through successful surgery and organ donation.