The Organ Transplant Unit at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) stepped up its efforts to encourage more organ donors with its participation in the Educational Days on Healthcare, a public healthcare educational initiative that took place earlier this week near the West Bay Health Center.
The healthcare educational days included an exhibition from 8:00am to 1:00pm where various organizations held information booths on their respective services, providing educational materials and family consultations on health-related topics such as kidney disease prevention and care, X-ray, natural medicine, psychiatric care, diabetes care and prevention, smoking and other health concerns.
Health-related lectures in the evening covered topics ranging from heart diseases and prevention to Islamic lectures and how to overcome life difficulties. The event drew commendation from participants as a means of promoting social development.
The Organ Transplant Unit’s booth displayed a banner with an image of an organ donor with an “=” symbol between him and eight other people, which, as Sahar Burhan, transplant coordinator explained, signifies that one organ donor can save as many as eight lives. “Whoever saves a life, it is as if he saves all mankind,” ran the motto of the unit.
“The lack of donors is a universal problem; the demand for organs is greater than the supply,” said Dr Riadh Fadhil, senior consultant for Urology and Transplant Surgery at HMC. “The number of dialysis patients in Qatar is approximately 500. Of that number, about 80 patients are on the waiting list for renal transplantation.”
“HMC over the last two years has worked extensively on different aspects to promote organ donation and these efforts paid off well,” Dr Fadhil added. He explained that over the first six months of this year, the number of organ donations has exceeded those donated in 2008 and 2009. This was a result of many staff education courses, public campaigns and the announcement of the Doha Donation Accord, an agreement on principles of honoring organ donors in Qatar.
Under the Doha Donation Accord, donors are honored as heroes, and rewarded by the country’s leadership for their act of heroism. Non-monetary provisions are granted to related donors and to organ donors after death. The accord has been finalized and approved by the Transplant Society and Hamad Medical Corporation, and has been forwarded to the Higher Supreme Council of Health for approval.
Working to eliminate negative perceptions on organ donation, the unit provides consultations and issues educational materials such as the Shariah fatwa on the transplantation of organs authored by an eminent Islamic scholar, Dr Sheikh Yusuf Al Qaradhawi. Dr Al Qaradhawi argues that the transplantation of organs from a living person to another living person is allowed by the Holy Qur’an, and that it is “a good deed from the organ donor to the Almighty and regarded as the highest form of charity in the eyes of Allah.” However, the sale of organs, considered “an exchange of wealth through agreement,” is not allowed.
Besides being a living donor, one can also become a donor after death. The unit provides information on brain death from the medical and legal point of view, i.e. when a person may be pronounced dead, for those who are considering donating their organs after their death.
Information is also available on the causes of kidney and urinary tract disease, the symptoms or warning signs and how to prevent such disease. Risk factors such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension, and health-threatening habits such as smoking, drugs or narcotics and alcohol are discussed, as well as preventive measures such as regular exercise, periodic medical checkups and taking medications only when needed and as prescribed. Among other participants in the three-day educational event were representatives from the Primary Healthcare Center Pharmacy, Aspetar Active, the Ministry of Interior, Qatar National Cancer Society, Qatar Red Crescent, Qatar Diabetes Association and Perfect Nutrition Center.