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Muslims and Jews on the medical, legal and religious aspects of organ donation

31 January 2021

On Sunday 31 January 2021 we brought together 40 people, mostly Muslims and Jews together with people of other faiths and none to learn more about organ donation from three expert speakers, a surgeon, an imam and a rabbi.

They tackled sombre issues such as when does death occur for legal and religious purposes, what are the rights of family members, and the meaning of “presumed consent.”

The event took place using Zoom, and was chaired by Cllr Heather Fletcher, Co-Chair of the Forum. Co-Chair Mohammed Amin welcomed participants and handled the technology aspects of the event and the Forum’s Company Secretary Tahara Amin gave the vote of thanks.

Mr Jeremy Crane

Mr Jeremy Crane, MD FRCS is part of the Department of Surgery & Cancer, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London and Consultant transplant and also a vascular surgeon, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

He covered the medical and UK legal aspects. Mr Crane mentioned that 6,000 people in the UK are presently waiting for a transplant and that every day one person dies while waiting. BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) people are disproportionately represented on the waiting list due to higher rates of diabetes and hypertension. At the same time, BAME people are much less likely to be organ donors, although the rates are rising.

Mr Crane praised the Forum for holding this awareness raising event. He stressed that the wishes of those who opt out, and the wishes of families, are always respected. He encouraged everyone to register their wishes online, and to discuss their wishes with family members.

Link to the NHS website where you can register your decision.

You can watch his talk below.

Dr Mansur Ali

Dr Mansur Ali, is Lecturer in Islamic Studies, School of History, Archaeology and Religion, Cardiff University and also an imam. He has served on the NHS Blood & Transplant Organ Donation Strategy Panel.

Using PowerPoint, he explained the diversity of religious opinions amongst Muslims about organ donation, ranging from absolutely opposed to very supportive. Dr Ali has interviewed one of the scholars who provided a supportive religious opinion for the NHS and is himself supportive.

You can watch his talk below.

Rabbi David Mason

Rabbi David Mason is Rabbi of the Muswell Hill Synagogue which is part of the United Synagogue.

He gave the Orthodox Jewish position. He explained that the Talmud does not discuss how to ascertain when someone has died, and then outlined the alternative views of different rabbis. Rabbi Mason mentioned that when the organ donor website was being revised after the introduction of presumed consent, the Chief Rabbi and others had lobbied to ensure that the religion of the person registering their wishes was properly recorded.

You can watch his talk below.

Participant feedback

After the formal presentations, there was an extended question and answer session which showed how important the subject was to those attending.

Dr Jackie Lewis who is herself a medical doctor said:

“This thought-provoking event was well received by the audience. It was interesting but not surprising to hear of the similarities in Muslim and Jewish ethical thought on the transplant issues and good to hear that both religions are broadly in favour because of the primacy of the need to save life. We were very fortunate to have such experts in this field, particularly the dedicated transplant surgeon, Jeremy Crane.”

Safiya Florence Ascoli-Ball who is a Muslim of French origin said:

“It was a very insightful evening where I learnt a lot, thanks to Rabbi David Mason, on the position of Judaism as I am a lot less familiar with it. Also, I learnt more about the Muslim position through the detailed presentation by the academic Dr Mansur Ali and I enjoyed hearing Mr Crane's point of view as a transplant surgeon. All in all, a very well organised and presented event.”

 

 

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The Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester
Established to develop the cultural and social ties between the Muslim and Jewish Communities of Greater Manchester

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