Trafficking of human organs is a crime in the UAE. This page provides information about the legality of organ donation and transplant.
The UAE allows transplantation of human organs and tissues from both living donors and the deceased in accordance with the provisions indicated in the Federal Decree Law No. 5 of 2016 on Regulation of Human Organs and Tissue Transplantation. This Decree Law aims to:
Trafficking of human organs is also prohibited under Federal Law No. 51 of 2006 on Combating Human Trafficking Crimes (100 KB, PDF). Article 1 of the law provides: Exploitation includes all forms of sexual abuse, involuntary servitude, mistreatment, coercion and abuse of work force, as well as illegal trading in human organs.
As part of the National Program for Organ Donation and Transplantation, Ministry of Health and Prevention launched HAYAT, a registry of national donors. Anyone in the UAE regardless of his/her nationality can become a donor or transplant recipient. The HAYAT registry is linked to each individual’s Emirates ID.
Prohibitions under the law
The Decree Law prohibits the sale of human organs and tissues or other body parts in any way for the purpose of transplantation. It also bans unlicensed advertising of transplantation of human organs, tissues and body parts.
Conditions for living donors
Living donors must be legally competent persons. They should unconditionally express that they are donating their organs by their own free will. It should also be confirmed from an authorised medical committee that no harm can fall on them from donation.
Donation by living donors is restricted to relatives within the fourth degree and couples married for at least two years. Living donors can unconditionally backtrack on their decision at any time; however, they may not recover a donated organ once it is removed.
Conditions for deceased donors
For the deceased, it is not permissible to remove an organ unless the donor’s wish is conclusively confirmed before death and formally documented either by the notary public or through the Emirates Identity card. Additionally, organ removal can only be done following a confirmation of death in line with the Ministerial Decision No. 550 of 2017 Concerning Requirements for Determining Death (PDF).
By law, the identity of both the donor and recipient must remain confidential.
Read full details of the Federal Decree Law No.5 of 2016 on Regulation of Human Organs and Tissue transplantation (PDF).
Under the National Program for Donation and Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissue - ‘Hayat’, any person in the UAE over the age of 21 and holding an Emirates ID may register his/her desire to donate organs after brain death. After completing registration, the applicant will receive an electronic donor card.
‘Hayat’ is a national system to enhance efforts to get more people to donate human organs and tissue in accordance with the international standards and practices in this regard. It aims to:
The programme is a collaboration of many federal and local authorities. It was created in accordance with Federal Decree-Law No. 5 of 2016 on the Regulation of Human Organs and Tissues Transplantation.
Read more on the ‘Hayat’ programme (PDF, 3.7 MB).
The UAE government warns the public to avoid illegal and unauthorised organ transplants. Following are the licenced facilities for organ transplantation in the UAE:
In September 2020, the UAE government approved a decision to establish a National Centre to Regulate Human Organs and Tissues Transplantation. The centre aims to unify the national efforts in the field of transplantation of human organs and tissues, regulate and coordinate organ transplant surgeries across the country. The centre also seeks to:
Ministry of Health and Prevention will operate the National Centre to Regulate Human Organs and Tissues Transplantation.