By Olivia Olarte Khaleej Times online
The definition of ‘brain dead’ for donors of cadaveric organ transplantation is a critical point and should consider all social, legal and religious aspects, said a member of the National Organ Transplant Committee.
Dr Mohammed Al Zaabi defined a brain-dead patient as one whose brain stem is dead.
“The brain stem is located between the higher brain center and the spinal cord. It controls breathing and heart function and consciousness,” explained Dr Al Zaabi, a liver transplant consultant at the Zayed Military Hospital and the Shaikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC).
“A brain dead patient is one who cannot survive without life support machines or medical ventilation to keep the circulation going and the heart pumping. We have to make sure that this patient is not going back to life, and this should be confirmed by a team of three doctors, one of them a neurologist,” added the specialist.
Last month, the Ministry of Health (MoH) approved the guidelines on the organ transplantation law that allows multi-organ donation - including kidney, liver, lung, pancreas and heart - after death.
Dr Al Zaabi said details of the guidelines or the ‘executive list’ will be drawn up at the committee’s upcoming meetings.
Some of those being considered include a donor pre-approval to appear on either the health card, driving license or the national ID card, or a separate donor ID system.
The law requires that close family members have to agree on the donation even though the donor has given his or her pre-approval prior to death.
This will only be superseded by a will clearly stating that donor wishes to donate his or her organ upon death.
As this is a new concept in the UAE, Dr Al Zaabi said a nationwide survey may be required to gauge the public’s view on the matter.
“Public awareness is very important. They need to understand that it is probably more rewarding to donate organs to those in need that refusing to do that based on cultural and religious belief. I think we are very much on the legal and religious parameter on this,” said the Emirati doctor.
“The neighboring countries have been performing cadaveric organ transplantation for the past 25 years, (and) we are lagging behind,” stressed the specialist.
He noted that a public awareness campaign will be launched as soon as the executive list is up and running and not in conflict with any of the UAE’s laws.
“We need to clarify what cadaveric organ transplantation is and to make sure that it is not in conflict with any law,” said Dr Al Zaabi adding that a conflict with any existing law would mean redefining the guidelines once again.
He noted that the guidelines are based on the development of the transplantation field and changes in the society.
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