Transplantation of Brain and Nervous System Cells

In the Name of Allāh,

the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful

Praise is due to Allāh, Lord of the worlds, may the blessings and peace be upon our master Muḥammad, the last of prophets, on his family, and all his companions.

Resolution No. 54 (5/6) Transplantation of Brain and Nervous System Cells

The Council of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, holding its 6th session in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, on 17–23 Shaʿbān 1410h (14–20 March 1990),

Having examined the research papers and recommendations concerning the Transplantation of Brain and Nervous System Cells, one of the topics of the Sixth Medical Fiqh Symposium held in the State of Kuwait on 23–26 Rabīʿ al-Aw- wal 1410h (23–26 October 1990) held jointly by the Academy and the Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences of Kuwait,

In light of the conclusions of the aforesaid symposium which concluded that transplantation here is not intended to transfer a human brain from one person to another, but to treat the failure of certain brain tissues by properly discharging chemical and hormonal substances and to replace these tissues with similar tissues obtained from another source, or to treat a gap of nervous system which has resulted from an injury,


First: If the source of the tissues is the suprarenal gland of the same patient and are accepted by the patient’s body immunity as they are from the same body, the transplantation is not objectionable in Shariah.

Second: If the source of the tissues to be transplanted is an animal fetus, there is no objection to this method if its success is possible, and there is no contra- vention of any rule laid down by Shariah. Physicians have mentioned that this method has been successful in different species of animals, and it is hoped that it will prove successful if adopted with necessary medical precautions to avoid the body’s rejection of the transplanted organ.

Third: If the source of the tissues to be transplanted is live tissues from brain of a premature human fetus (in the tenth or eleventh week of pregnancy), the Shariah ruling may differ according to the following methods:

A: First Method

The removal of brain tissue directly from the human fetus in the mother’s uterus, by surgically opening the uterus, will result in the death of the fetus. This prac- tice is therefore prohibited by Shariah, unless it follows a miscarriage or a legal abortion to save the life of the mother, and the death of the fetus becomes obvi- ous. In this case, the conditions for the use of the fetus prescribed in resolution no. 59 (8/6) of this session must be observed.

B: Second Method

This method may be developed in the near future and consists of cultivating brain tissues in special laboratories in order to make use of it. There is no Shariah objection to this method if the source of the cultured tissues is lawful and if it was obtained by lawful means.

Fourth: Anencephaly (Child born without a Brain). As long as the child is born alive, it is not permissible to remove any part of his body, unless it is proven that he is dead by the death of his brain stem. He is no different from other infants in this respect. If he dies, removing parts of his body must be done in accordance with the terms and conditions applicable to the transplantation of the dead’s organs, such as obtaining the required permission, unavailability of a substitute, evident need and such other conditions stipulated in resolution no. 26 (1/4) of the fourth session of this Academy. There is no Shariah objec- tion to keep this brainless child on life support equipment until the death of his brain stem in order to preserve the life of transferable organs and to facilitate their transplantation according to the above-mentioned conditions.

Indeed, Allāh is All-Knowing.

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