Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser led the way for future generations by registering as an organ donor yesterday.
Her Highness Sheikha Moza visited the Qatar Organ Donation Center (Hiba) at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) in Doha yesterday, where she met a group of patients, donors and other distinguished guests. Her Highness spoke with several organ donors and recipients of transplanted organs who were able to share their own personal experiences and explain how the organ donation and transplantation program has changed their lives.
Her Highness Sheikha Moza, who is a committed patron of Qatar’s organ donation and transplantation efforts, paved the way by adding her name to the list of generous donors who are prepared to offer the gift of life to others. Following her lead, a number of other dignitaries who were present made the same noble gesture.
“The Qatar Organ Donation Center is dedicated to the promotion of organ donations and the maintaining of a national donor register. Our aim in Qatar is to become self-sufficient as a country and every single one of us must reflect seriously, as our religious duty demands, on how we can play a part in this effort,” said Her Highness Sheikha Moza.
His Excellency Abdullah Khalid Al Qahtani, the Minister of Health, said: “Qatar has come a long way in increasing donation and transplantation of organs for our citizens. It is our aim to become self-sufficient as a country. In her altruism, Her Highness has shown the way. I would now encourage every member of the community to consider playing a part in this noble effort.”
Dr Hanan Al Kuwari, HMC’s Managing Director, said: “We are honoured by the presence of Her Highness and other dignitaries today and are deeply grateful on behalf of the people of Qatar. Through the generous act of registering as an organ donor, Her Highness has made a clear and unequivocal pledge to support organ donation and her demonstration of leadership by example will help tremendously in encouraging more people in Qatar to register as organ donors. We know that many people have misconceptions that make them afraid to register as an organ donor. They need not have any fear. The personal commitment shown by Her Highness will help to allay their concerns and inspire people to similar acts of generosity.”
Hamad Medical Corporation, in cooperation with the Supreme Council of Health, has started a campaign that will liaise with potential donors and their families to expand the number of donations from both live and deceased donors. The organ donation program is based on the accepted notion that organ and tissue donation helps others by giving them a second chance at life.
The program will focus on educating people about the benefits of increasing organ donation in Qatar. Ongoing public education and awareness campaigns will inspire as many people as possible to register as organ donors.
Latifa Almaragi, a 22-year-old Qatari patient at HMC, travelled to Iran for a kidney transplant in 1995. However, her body rejected the new kidney and she has been on dialysis ever since. She is currently on the waiting list for an organ transplant, and her brother has decided to undertake tests to see if he could be a potential donor.
Latifa, who works as a secretary at the Fahad Bin Jassim Kidney Center, says she is confident about undergoing a transplant procedure in Qatar, especially after meeting many patients who received transplants abroad and developed serious complications.
“We have compared the transplantation system in Qatar to others abroad and decided that we have a better system with better care and follow-up for patients. We only have one problem – a lack of donors,” explained Latifa.
Similarly, Bilgies Fouad Ali, a 41-year-old Qatari resident from Sudan, developed kidney failure three years ago, prompting her to undergo dialysis sessions three times a week at Hamad General Hospital. Hoping to save her life, her family members got tested with the aim of being potential donors.
After over a year of dialysis sessions, Bilgies younger sister Nisreen who lives in London was identified as a match. Surprisingly, she had failed twice as a potential donor but she persisted and on the third try, Hamad General Hospital doctors delivered the news that the match was indeed positive.
Bilgies said: “I am ten years older than my sister and I was worried about her giving me a kidney, but doctors at Hamad General Hospital reassured me. My sister and I refused to undergo the transplant surgery anywhere other than Qatar, because we felt confident of the highly competent doctors and clinical expertise. It has been over two years since our kidney transplant and thank God, both my sister and I are healthy and well. I call on everyone in Qatar to participate by saving the lives of patients who are waiting for someone to ease their pain. Being an organ donor is a form of ongoing charity.”
The current Ramadan organ donation campaign which has been held in major shopping malls across Doha has been highly successful in getting both Qatari and foreign residents to actively contribute by joining the organ donor register.
It became evident during this campaign that many people had concerns about becoming a registered organ donor, but these were often based on misconceptions or lack of information. Many people were quite willing to register once their questions were answered and fears were dispelled. The campaign has also revealed that large numbers of people simply did not know how to go about placing their name on the donor register, but were happy to do so when shown how.
Several Shari’a Councils and respected scholars have issued a fatwa (religious opinion) supporting organ donation as a noble act of charity. Dr Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi has supported organ donation according to certain conditions that are compliant with Shari’a law. One such guideline is that the act of donation should benefit the receiver while causing no harm to the donor. For instance, the act of donating one of two healthy kidneys is an admissible act of charity. It is also regarded as the highest form of charity in the eyes of God as Islam does not confine the concept of charity to wealth.
Qatar has adopted the Doha Donation Accord, a strategic framework developed by HMC and the Supreme Council of Health. The accord is based on international best practices and designed to safeguard the rights of potential organ donors and honour their noble act of giving the gift of life. It also ensures the best possible medical care and promotes the health of both organ donors and patients receiving new organs.
Through the principles set out by the Doha Donation Accord, living donors are offered medical insurance throughout their life, as well as compensation for any health problems. The donors and their families also receive a Medal of Honour from the highest authorities in Qatar in recognition of their altruism.
Qatar’s organ donation and transplant program is based on a fair and equitable system giving any citizen in the country who has been assessed as a viable organ transplant recipient, equal access to donated organs. Where available, organs are given freely to those whose needs are the greatest, regardless of wealth or position and the donation and allocation of organs is governed by strict laws in accordance with international standards.
People who need an organ transplant often have to wait a long time for the right match as doctors must match donors to recipients to reduce the risk of transplant rejection. The higher the number of registered organ donors in a country, the greater the likelihood of finding the right match and accessing the required organs. Consequently, national programs that support organ donation promotion are essential in helping a country become self-sufficient in the continual search for suitable organ donors.
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