Azhar issues fatwa allowing transplant of pigs' kidneys
Cairo – Egypt's top religious institution, Al-Azhar, ended an ongoing debate this week by issuing a fatwa (or religious ruling) permitting pig's kidneys to be transplanted into a human body, but only under certain conditions.
The debate began after a group of American surgeons in New York successfully managed to transplant a pig’s kidney to a human patient earlier this month, tapping a renewable source of organs which are in short supply.
In Islam, a pig is considered an unclean animal and the Quran prohibits Muslims from consuming its meat.
Al-Azhar, which was founded as an Islamic university more than a thousand years ago, is considered Egypt's highest religious authority and Muslims around the world look to it for guidance.
“[Islam] forbids being medicated by whatever is harmful, filthy [or] prohibited,” Al-Azhar said in the fatwa.
However, the fatwa added that if the use of the organ is to save a life, it could be permissible, only “if necessary.”
The Quran places great emphasis on the saving of human life, saying in one verse, "And whoever saves a life it is as though he had saved the lives of all mankind".
Exceptions can usually be made to religious rules in order to save lives or for other necessities.