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The ethics of organ donation, donation after circulatory determination of death, and xenotransplantation from an Islamic perspective

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Donation after circulatory determination of death (DCDD) and xenotransplantation are advanced as possible solutions to the growing gap between the number of individuals in need of organ transplantation and the pool of donors. Investigating how various publics, including religious leaders, might view these “therapies” is essential for broad public and professional support and will be needed in order to make these solutions viable. This study, therefore, presents normative Islamic bioethical perspectives on donation after circulatory determination of death and xenotransplantation. First, we will discuss foundational Islamic ethico‐legal debates regarding organ donation. These debates can be grouped into three broad positions, those who consider organ donation categorically impermissible as a violation of human dignity (urma and karāma), those who agree that organ donation is impermissible in principle, but allow it conditionally on the basis of dire necessity (arūra), and those who permit organ donation based on notions of public interest (malaa). Next, we will reflect upon the additional ethical dimensions DCDD and xenotransplantation add to these debates. We contend that the condition of minimal harm to the donor and the definition of death need to be accounted for within Islamic perspectives on DCDD. Xenotransplantation, on the other hand, highlights concerns about using pigs for therapeutic purposes. We conclude by commenting on additional questions that remain to be addressed in the Islamic bioethical debate over these practices and with recommendations for further research.
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Keywords: Islamic ethics; Muslims; cultural perspectives; theology

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2018

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