The United Arab Emirates has followed in the footsteps of neighbouring Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia by passing a law which legalises organ donations within the country.
Law Permitting Live Organ Donation
After a long process of research and public debate - including a survey asking more than 500 Emirati nationals and expats living in the country for their views - an agreement was finalised and became law allowing those in desperate need of transplants to undergo the life changing operations.
Organ donation is a controversial matter in the country - with almost 40% of those responding to the survey stating that they were not in favour of it - and as a result a strict range of criteria have been put in place for those wishing to donate.
Living people can only donate to up to 4th degree relatives (great uncles and aunts, first cousins etc) or to their partners if they have been married for more than 2 years.
Rules for harvesting organs from the recently deceased are also strict to ensure they conform with the Islamic ruling of death. This followed a great deal of government research into the religious side of the process, where Islamic experts from neighbouring countries were assisting to ensure the process was suitable.
Regulations Preventing Sale of Organs
There are also strict rules preventing organs being sold for cash. An individual caught selling their organs can face a lengthy jail term of up to 5 years and a fine of up to Dh100,000 (over £20,000), whilst any surgeons who are found to be forcing patients into transplants can face fines of over Dh1,000,000 and life imprisonment.
Whilst the rules in place are stringent it is estimated that over 2000 people in the Emirates currently rely on dialysis and need a kidney transplant - the most common transplant worldwide - whilst heart and liver transplants are also expected to be in high demand.
Despite the health benefits many Emiratis - and other Muslims living in the country - are cautious about the system where there becomes a risk they could receive the organs of a non-Muslim. Whilst the majority of patients would be likely to accept a donation many will ensure that they speak with a religious figure prior to making the decision.
Introduction of Organ Donorship Scheme
Notwithstanding the fact that the scheme is not universally supported, the introduction of the optional donorship scheme should ensure that the standard of health in the UAE continues to rise at a pace almost unmatched worldwide
Jobs in the UAE
If moving to the UAE is something which appeals to you then book your tickets for our International Medical Careers Forum in London on October 15th where we will have guest speeches from experts including HR Directors and Surgeons from hospitals in the Middle East.
There are only a limited number of tickets available - so book now on http://www.imc-forum.com/ to avoid disappointment!