As the NHS information leaflet Organ Donation and Religious Perspectives makes clear, organ donation is not a hugely controversial issue for faith communities in the UK. All the major ones support the basic principle of organ donation and transplantation.
This is even the case with Islam, for, although a minority of Muslim scholars does not believe that organ donation is permissible, the Muslim Law (Shariah) Council UK did issue a supportive fatwah on the subject in 1995. However, all religions recognize that, ultimately, this is a matter for individual choice and conscience.
A limited public opinion viewpoint on the subject is offered by a new report from the European Commission on Organ Donation and Transplantation (Special Eurobarometer 333a). Together with a UK fact-sheet, it is available for download at:
This is based on Wave 72.3 of Eurobarometer, fieldwork in the UK being conducted by TNS between 2 and 18 October 2009. A representative sample of 1,354 adults aged 15 and over was interviewed face-to-face.
Just over three-fifths of UK citizens were in favour of organ donation. 61% said they would be willing to donate one of their own organs to an organ donation service immediately after death, and 64% would agree to donate an organ from a deceased close family member.
Of those unwilling to donate their own organs or those of a close family member (26% and 20% respectively), only 4% in the UK cited religious reasons for withholding consent, compared with 12% who distrusted the system, 25% who were scared of manipulating the human body, 22% who gave other reasons and 37% don’t knows.
The 4% giving religious reasons in the UK was three points less than the European Union (EU) 27-nation mean. Only Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Malta and Slovenia recorded lower figures. The highest in the EU were in Austria (15%) and Romania (17%). The 29% recorded in the EU candidate country of Turkey is significant on account of its largely Muslim population.
Regrettably, the published report does not disaggregate responses by religious affiliation.