Monday, March 23, 2009

Human Organ Trade in Singapore - at last, some discussions?

The issue has come up for discussions in Parliament. It's clear now the timing of Dr Lee Wei Ling's bemused rants. But I seriously hope that this will lead to some serious discussions about a critically important issue. The last wayang by Ministry of Health was such a rushed job, you seriously had to question what they were doing it for?

What I would like to see, and hope our Parliamentarians will raise are:

a] In depth presentation of pros and cons. Let's just not talk about the number of kidney failures and how many people will benefit. Let's have a really hard look at the ethical issues and the downsides and social impact to having a flourishing organ trade in Singapore.

b] A more honest discussions by our ethicists about the issues about to be breached by having an organ trade. Please don't hide behind august committees and issue bland politically correct, consensus documents. Let's discuss the issues openly. I must say I have been sorely disappointed by our ethicists who privately express reservations but who strive so hard to be politically correct.

c] Let the issue be clearly separated from issues of commercialized medicine. Why can't the Ministry of Health make it plain that this is not about establishing ourselves as a medical hub par excellence? If we have to do it, why open it to foreign recipients... unless we want to make their money? Society pays an ethical price in order to provide a service for our own citizens. Let's do it properly for our own citizenry, and let this not be a business/trade.

d] Let's have a clear plan on how we are actually going to implement a reimbursement/support scheme for donors. Call it whatever you want. The rose will smell the same whatever sweet name you want to call it. This is critical to the acceptability of the programme. It is not adequate to say let's approve first...and work out details later. This is just not acceptable.

The ends never justify the means. If we want to mature into a responsible civilized society, we need to give serious consideration to the hows and whys of what we are doing, and not capitulate to expedience.

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