To Combat Organ Trade (A Law on Human Organ Donation Passed)

On 19/08/1442 AH corresponding to 01/04/2021 G, a Royal Decree No. (M/70), dated 09/08/1442 AH, has been promulgated sanctioning a law on Human Organ Donation. This law shall come into effect within 90 days from the date of publishing the law in the official gazette.

The law was published in Umm Al-Qura gazette, issue No. 4878, on Friday, 27th of Shabaan 1442 AH, corresponding to April 1, 2021, G.

Therefore, it is expected that the implementation of the regulations of the law shall be issued before 27th of Zul Al-Qeda 1442 AH, corresponding to 07/07/2021 G.

This law includes 27 articles, which organize the procedures of moving, transplanting and preserving human organs as well as maintaining the rights of persons from whom or to whom organs are moved.

The law also put forth the mechanism on granting licenses to medical facilities to perform these kinds of operations, and warnings to officials of the consequences in relations to donation and transplantation of human organs and the process of getting such licenses.

The law has empowered the Saudi Center for Organ Transplantation (SCOT) to issue licenses whereby a medical facility shall be granted permission to practice the process of removing human organs or transplanting them under a decision to be issued by the director general of SCOT, based on a recommendation to be issued by an evaluation committee of the medical facilities.

The law stipulated that a higher medical committee shall be formed from all medical sectors, in which the rank of its members will not be less than a consultant doctor.

This committee has been assigned the task of preparing a full guideline that includes all health regulations and conditions as well as the internationally approved norms and standards for organ transplant, in a way which, shall not be inconsistent with Islamic Sharia and the law.

The law specified the legal requirements that must be available with a donor.

A donor is defined as a person who grants permission when he/she is alive to move any of his/her body organs while alive or after death. Before obtaining his/her permission, the law stipulates that the donor shall complete 18 years of age, and to be legally fully competent person to be eligible for donation.

The law has also banned donation of organs of a living person, who is incompetent, or who lacks competency, and the approval of his/her guardians or curators in this case shall not be considered.

As part of approvals required for organ donation, the law has permitted the movement of human organs from a dead person subject to the approval of a close heir of him/her. If none of the heirs are identifiable, then the approval of the closest relatives, who are not heirs, shall be obtained.

In the event that the dead person has many relatives of the same degree, then the approval of the majority at least shall be obtained. This will be contained in detail in the implementation regulations upon issuing it.

The law laid down some additional requirements that should be taken into account before approving the decision of the donor. Article No. (5) of the law states that the donor shall undergo a test by psychiatrists and social specialists to verify that there is no reason that could affect the donor’s decision and approval to donate his/her organs/s.

The law states that the donor must be clearly informed of all the confirmed or potential results that could arise from removing the human organ.

The law also banned the donation of human organs that is vital for the life of the donor, or if the donation of the organ will result in the death of the donor or would lead to the malfunction of an entire organ, or prevent the donor from practicing life as usual.

The law banned donation of organs if the organ produces reproductive cells that contain hereditary information or parts of them.

Article No. (12) The law has barred the donor or his/her heirs from requesting or receiving any financial or in-kind consideration in return for the organ donation whether from the donnée or from health centers.

The law banned the donnée from giving any financial or in-kind consideration for the donation, and whoever is involved in this shall be subjected to the penal actions as set forth in article no. (21), which carries a jail term of no more than two years and a fine of no more than one million Saudi Riyals or with both penalties together.

However, out of encouraging community members to donate human organs, the new law has authorized the Saudi Health Council to prepare a special manual of regulations and requirements whereby donors could receive financial, in-kind, moral benefits or encouraging rewards.

Donors may also be granted an employment priority, or a scholarship may be granted to donors and their heirs if they agree to donate after performing the donation operation.

These guidelines shall be issued as a decision by the Saudi cabinet.

Nonetheless, the health facilities can get financial consideration for the costs and services they render upon carrying out such kind of organ transplant operations.

The main objective of this law is to fight organ trade and raise the culture of donating human organs in the society and to utilize hospitals and medical centers optimally in improving the quality of the medical services, be they preventive or therapeutic.

The KSA vision 2030 envisages that the role of the public health sector will be focused on planning, organizing and controlling the health schemes and enacting appropriate laws (including this law), then to set up government entities to mesmerize the best international medical expertise in this field in a preliminary step to privatize them to expand the beneficiaries base of this law and create numerous job opportunities in this area.

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