Legal provisions on 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:
- regulate and develop transplantation operations
- ban human organs’ and tissues’ trafficking
- regulate the process of donating organs and tissues
- prevent exploitation of the patient’s or the donor’s needs.
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.
Under the National Program for Organ Transplantation
, Ministry of Health and Prevention is preparing a national donors’ registry. Anyone in the UAE regardless of nationality can become a donor or recipient of an organ during a transplant surgery and the option will be 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.
Licensed health facilities for transplantation
The UAE government warns the public to avoid illegal and unauthorised organ transplants. As of February 2018, there are four licenced facilities for organ transplantation in the UAE. They are:
Read full details of the Federal Decree Law No.5 of 2016 on Regulation of Human Organs and Tissue transplantation (PDF).
National Centre for Regulating Human Organs and Tissues Transplantation
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:
- implement a prevention and treatment programme for organ failure and registration of cases
- develop procedures for regulating transplantation of human organs and tissues
- ·organise the preservation and distribution of organs
- coordinate with health authorities to train and develop qualifications for practitioners in the field
- encourage the practice of organ and tissue transplantation.
Ministry of Health and Prevention will operate the National Centre to Regulate Human Organs and Tissues Transplantation.
Read about the UAE’s National Program for Organ Transplantation.