Egypt: controversy surrounds new organ donor law

Egypt: controversy surrounds new organ donor law

CAIRO: The Egyptian Parliament has agreed in principle on the Law of Organ Transplants amid a massive campaign against the new law by a number of MPs, including those from the Muslim Brotherhood, independents as well as government MPs. They argue the new draft law would open the door “for human trafficking in Egypt.”

The MPs, in their arguments against the new law, called on the end of permitting the donation of organs from Egyptians to foreigners and demanded ending the “penalty law in order to prevent this from happening.”

“We need a law to regulate organ transplants, especially since it has became a social necessity with Egypt becoming the third ranking country in the world in organ trafficking,” said Saad el-Katatni, head of the Muslim Brotherhood parliamentary bloc

He said that the current charters on the books are insufficient, “especially in Articles 3, 6, 9 and 12, which require major amendments in order to achieve the law’s goal.”

Katatni called for documenting and listing all donors “a necessity” in order to prevent manipulation and trafficking. He added that the government should strengthen penalties against those who violeate the law, adding that if Parliament “guaranteed the prevention of manipulation and trafficking, we will not hesitate to approve this law.”

Mohamed Abdo, of the Constitutional Party, stated that opening the door for so-called “clinical death will lead to more trafficking in human organs.”

In recent years, a string of reports have hit Egypt over the alleged trafficking of organs in the country. The most notable was the case of a young Egyptian house cleaner who was hired by a Kuwaiti couple, but was drugged and had a number of organs removed by the couple before they fled the country.

Karma El-Hefyan, of the NDP, also disapproved of the draft law. He based his decision on the opinion of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, which does not consider a person who is brain dead as officially dead.

NDP MP Mohamed Khaleel Qoweta added to the government lawmakers’ opposition to the draft law, saying that “Article 12 will turn the Egyptian people into human spare parts,” pointing out that it also violates the resolutions of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs. He stressed that Article 3 codifies the organ trafficking by “allowing the organ transplanting to non-relatives and also by giving private investing hospitals the rights to perform operations. This is considered a national scandal.”

MP Sameh Allam also opposed the donating of organs to non-relatives. He added that this would lead “to organ trafficking and it is imperative we differentiate between life and death.”

Hatem El-Gebaly, Minister of Health, in a press statement, said that donating to non-relatives is subject to a committee appointed by the Minister of Health. He said “there are some illnesses such as kidney diseases which affects the whole family and leads to kidney failure. Should we let them die or get them kidneys from non-relatives?”

MP Sayed Askar warned of possible manipulation and trafficking because “there are many things undefined, which is left to the executive regulations,” adding that the approval of the law by the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and Dr. al-Qaradawi is “not true and the law was not reviewed by them, but their opinions regarding the general principle was taken.”

Mohamed El-Beltagi, also of the MB Parliamentary bloc, asserted that Egypt is in dire need of this law in the light of the increasing number of cases of kidney failure. He called for providing guarantees “in order not to lose any life and to authenticate the donation process in the real estate and not to be left to individuals.”

MP Saad El-Husseini stated that the only sensitive and critical matter in this law is that whether the clinical death is in fact considered a death. He cited the Head of the Egyptian Association for the Nerves and Brain who emphasized that clinical death is not death.

“The Penal Code requires a unanimous verdict, however with regards to the definition of death, scientists are still debating” he added, “Why wouldn’t the Council listen to the competent scholars in this matter.”

Either way, the government looks ready to move forward on its plans for a new organ donation draft law, despite the opposition of MPs and groups from the entire political spectrum.