Middle East

Kuwait looks to boost cooperation with WHO 

BEIRUT: Organ donation in Lebanon is relying on individual initiatives, although the issue still generates controversy among the public.

Former Health Minister Mohamed Jawad Khalife told Arab News: “The recommendation to donate organs is still rare in Lebanon, and this is due to the prevailing culture that considered this work to be taboo, even though religions do not prohibit it.”

Khalife founded the National Organization for Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplant in Lebanon during his ministry in 2005.

Khalife, a surgeon, added: “When the NOD LB was formed, it was welcomed by clergy from different communities, who even took part in awareness campaigns to educate the people about the importance of organ donation.

“The momentum of the campaigns declined after the 2006 July war and continued until the coronavirus pandemic.”

Khalife said that organ donation is currently restricted to individual initiatives.

He added: “In Europe, the country where people donate organs the most is Spain. In the rest of the EU, organ donation is between 15 and 20 per million. In Lebanon, the percentage does not exceed 1.5 percent of the population.”

NOD LB is responsible for monitoring every donation and tissue transplant that takes place on Lebanese soil.

It believes that people’s views on the subject are slowly changing, thanks to awareness-raising campaigns.

Two weeks ago, a young Lebanese man, Ali Mahmoud Sharafeddine, was in a traffic accident in a town in the south of the country and died in hospital.

His family decided to donate a number of his body parts to six patients, according to his wishes.

The move resulted in religious scholar Sayyid Ali Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah getting in touch with the family. He said the act represented “the highest level of responsibility toward society.”

Fadlallah, whose late father, Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, was a religious guide, urged “the need to revive and strengthen this tradition, which is one of the most prominent examples of sacrifice and devotion, so that others may live and enjoy what they had lost.”

However, organ donation in Lebanon is still causing controversy.

Lawmakers have established legal rules governing the donation of organs.

They state that “the identity of the donor, who is required to be over 18 years old, remains unknown because donation has no identity, gender, doctrine or race.”

Two decrees regulating organ donation and transplantation were issued after the country’s first transplant in 1972. One of them declared that the donation should be “free and unconditional.”

Awareness campaigns to encourage organ donation have included initiatives in schools, universities, and military institutions.

Donors must first fill out a form available on the NOD LB website.

However, the organization said: “There has been no improvement in the actual donation rate and it has been limited to individual cases.”

The NOD LB is also facing a lack of coordination between hospitals, particularly in the reporting of brain deaths.

An additional issue is that attempts are made by some individuals to sell organs, especially kidneys, rather than donate them. Ali Mahmoud Sharafeddine i


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