Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Egyptian Sunni Cleric: Use Death Row Prisoners’ Organs for Transplant

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Written by The Media Line Staff
The Media Line

Mufti Muhammad Sayid Tantawi, the head of the Al-Azhar University in Egypt and one of the most influential clerics in the Sunni Islamic world has proposed that organs of prisoners on death row be used in transplant procedures, the Egyptian newspaper Daily News Egypt reported.

The proposal comes at a time when the Egyptian parliament is debating a new law on organ transplants, much of which has focused on the definition of when a person is dead.

Tantawi was, according to the paper, referring to the 10 men recently sentenced to death after being found guilty of kidnapping and raping a woman.

Parliamentarians opposing the proposal argued that it would be a violation of a person’s basic human rights to take his or her organs without consent.

In 1992, the then Egyptian attorney general ruled that doctors might take organs from a person after execution. The doctors were supposed to wait until the prisoner was pronounced clinically dead and keep his organs functioning while they operated. Instead, the doctors operated while the person was still technically alive. The attorney general then retracted his decision and charged the doctors with first degree murder.

Egypt is among the countries listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as hot spots for organ trafficking and is under pressure to follow the actions of other hot spots such as China and the Philippines to outlaw organ sales and to bar foreigners from undergoing transplants to stop what the WHO calls transplant tourism.

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