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July 14, 2008

Singapore: Health ministry has not written off organ trading
Singapore’s Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan has not rejected the idea of legalising organ trading in Singapore, but he said it must be studied more carefully, reported Channel News Asia.

In recent weeks, a medical ethics debate over the issue has resurfaced, after five persons were prosecuted over kidneys-for-sale deals.

Siblings have a one in four chance of a successful organ transplant because that's when the best tissue match occurs. Khaw said this was according to a kidney expert from the UK whom he met recently.

However, with those odds reduced to one in 2,000 when organs are obtained from outside the family, Mr Khaw said this means the success rate may fall further if Singapore allows organs to be bought or sold, as family members may stop donating them under the Human Organ Transplant Act (HOTA).

Khaw said: "If you allow trading, currently those who volunteer for the family members or under HOTA, they may then object and say, 'since you can now buy organs, then why should I volunteer to save my family members?'

"And now you have to get many more organs through the market, of which quality may not be as good. So I think these are important considerations that the Ministry of Health is studying."

He said that while Iran is the only country which legalises organ trading, it has not been able to achieve self-sufficiency in organ transplants, unlike Spain and Norway where organ sale is a crime but the supply almost matches demand.

Khaw is hopeful that when HOTA is extended to Muslims next month, which will widen the pool of organ donors in the event of death, the number of cadaveric transplants will grow.

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