Organ donation in Jordan: A disconnect between willingness and action

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Organ transplantation is a life-saving procedure that revolutionized modern medicine. In Jordan, organ transplants have been regulated by law since 1975, with the first heart transplant performed in 1985.اضافة اعلان

Yet despite the willingness of many Jordanians to donate organs, the Kingdom has one of the lowest organ donation rates in the world, with only 0.3 donors per million in 2020, according to statistics from the World Health Organization.

Despite this, studies have shown that Jordanians are statistically more willing to donate organs. Participants in studies done in 2018, 2020, and 2022 have demonstrated that Jordanians were willing to donate their organs after death.

For instance, a study conducted in 2018 in Northern Jordan assessed public attitudes toward corneal donation, finding that 62.9 percent of the study participants were willing to donate their corneas after death. Similarly, another study published in 2022 in the Experimental and Clinical Transplantation Journal surveyed the awareness of organ donation in Jordan and found that only 54 percent of the respondents were aware of organ donation, and 66 percent of those familiar were willing to donate.

Despite the encouraging findings, there remains to be a discrepancy between awareness and actual willingness to donate organs, which can be seen in the gap between registered organ donors versus people who support it.

TimelineIn 2015, Jordan introduced essential organ donation regulations that expanded the criteria for brain death certification and legal protections for donors and their families, creating a supportive legal and regulatory environment for organ donation and transplantation.

In 2017, post-mortem organ donation surged in Jordan due to legislative changes, increased public awareness campaigns, and establishment of a centralized organizational framework under the Ministry of Health's umbrella to oversee organ donation and transplantation.

Several NGOs, including the Jordan Society for Organ Donation and Transplantation and the Gift of Life Jordan, launched awareness campaigns to dispel myths and misconceptions about organ donation and transplantation and encouraged individuals to register as donors.

The government also launched initiatives to increase organ donation awareness, including media campaigns and educational programs in schools and universities.

However, in 2018 the surge in organ donors halted, and it is unclear why. Fluctuations in donor numbers, a lack of sustained awareness campaigns, the government shifts in healthcare priorities, or insufficient infrastructure to support sustained levels of organ donation and transplantation may have played a role.

Reasons for decreasing organ donorsMany researchers commonly attribute the low organ donation rates in Muslim-majority countries, like Jordan, to Islamic teachings. However, studies examining the public's attitudes towards organ donations in Jordan show that this perception is not necessarily reflected in reality.

In fact, Muslim institutions have played a significant role in promoting organ donation by issuing fatwas that permit organ transplantation from brain-dead donors in certain circumstances.

The Iftaa Department in Jordan and Al-Azhar in Egypt have issued fatwas that support organ donation, helping to address religious concerns around the practice and increasing awareness and acceptance of organ donation among Muslims in many countries.

A study published in PubMed by W. Qarem in 2022 revealed a significant challenge in Jordan: one-third of the 404 participants reported a surprising level of distrust in local health services.

This lack of trust has contributed to low organ donation rates in Jordan, with concerns about the safety and efficacy of organ transplantation and worries about disfigurement to the donor's body after organ recovery being among the main reasons for hesitation. Interestingly, very few participants had negative attitudes towards organ donation due to religious reasons, indicating that the lack of trust is a more significant obstacle to the sector than religious views in Jordan.

Despite the legal framework, the number of registered donors remains low, highlighting the need for increased awareness and participation. To address these challenges, an interactive, transparent, and real-time tracking system for organ donation could be implemented.

This would provide the public with clear information about the donation process and give them confidence in the safety and efficacy of organ transplantation. By promoting transparency and accountability, this tracking system could help increase participation in organ donation and ultimately save more lives.

Challenges Organ donation in Jordan faces a significant challenge due to the low number of donations from deceased donors. While donation after cardiac death (DCD) is a common practice in many countries, it is still absent in Jordan due to a lack of technical, logistical, and financial resources and clear protocols, procedures, and legislation. As a result, most organs are donated by living donors, which can put donors at risk and limit the number of organs available for transplant.

To increase the number of deceased donors in Jordan, it is crucial to address these issues and develop a comprehensive framework that supports and encourages organ donation. This includes investing in the necessary resources, developing clear protocols and procedures, and implementing legislation that supports organ donation and transplantation.

DCD is a time-sensitive procedure requiring careful coordination and attention to speed, precision, and effectiveness. During DCD, organ donation occurs after the heart has stopped beating but before the organs have suffered irreversible damage. This means that the process of organ recovery must be initiated quickly and efficiently to maximize the chances of successful transplantation.

To implement a successful DCD program in Jordan, clear protocols must be developed, healthcare providers must be trained, and a well-coordinated system must be established to respond quickly and effectively to potential donors. The success of DCD programs worldwide is largely due to the development of coordinated and efficient methods that prioritize the needs of donors, recipients, and healthcare providers.

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