CAIRO: The People’s Assembly’s (PA) legislative and health committees on Saturday approved on principle a new law regulating organ transplants in public hospitals.
At a press conference after the two committees met, PA Chairman Fathi Sorour said that the new law will guarantee that all transplant procedures will be performed legally and under the supervision of the government’s medical authority.
“This law will put an end to the illegal organ trade, as donors will have to agree to donating their organs for free, Sorour added.
Minister of Health Hatem El-Gabaly said at the conference that organ transplant operations will be conducted sparingly, “only if the transplantation is vital to the patient’s health and survival.
As for the long-debated definition of death, which has been one of the main reasons the law has been delayed, El-Gabaly clarified that the new draft law stipulates that an independent committee of three experts must unanimously confirm the donor’s death after conducting specific tests.
Mofid Shehab, minister of state for legal and parliamentary affairs, said that the PA has received confirmation from the Islamic Research Center that the new law does not violate Sharia.
In his fatwa, Tantawy said that according to the Islamic definition, death occurs if either the heart or the brain stop functioning.
Released last March, Tantawy’s fatwa also indicated that the using organs belonging to criminals on death row can only be done upon their written consent.
The law also stipulates that patients suffering mental illness will not be allowed to donate their organs because donors must display a normal state of mind state to give his/her consent.
Donors also have the full right to go back on their decision at any point prior to the transplant proceedure.
In a bid to stem the international organ trade, the law only allows transplant operations between Egyptians, with the exception of foreigners who have been are married to Egyptians for at least five years.
Doctors and medical organizations that violate the new regulations will be fined a minimum of LE 100,000 and maximum LE 200,000. If the violation results in the death of a patient, the fine will be between LE 100,000 and LE 300,000 accompanied with and life sentence
Hamdy Al-Sayyed, chairman of the PA’s health committee and head of the Doctors’ Syndicate, said that Egypt is the only country in the world that does not have an organ transplant law although it is “ranked number seven in organ trafficking tourism.
Al-Sayyed further added that the PA’s health committee has been drafting this law for the past eight years. The committee had reviewed similar laws in 12 other countries before settling on the current draft law.
The law is currently in the hands of the Shoura Council (Egypt’s Upper House of Parliament) which will send it back to the PA for a final vote before the close of the current parliamentary session.