Concerns over proposal to reimburse organ donors (ST 19/3)
We commend the Ministry of Health's efforts to amend the Human Organ Transplant Act, with the intention of increasing the number of transplants.
Our association fully endorses the proposed amendments to lift the upper age limit for cadaveric donors and to allow donor-recipient paired matching as these are medically justified.
The amendment to support the welfare of living donors by allowing them to be compensated seeks to reimburse donors for expenses incurred through their altruistic act, including loss of earnings, transport costs and possible future medical expenses.
But this amendment raises the following concerns:
It may be preferable to provide for such costs within Singapore's health-care framework. An example would be to issue donors with a medical benefits card that would cover related medical issues.
The ministry may also wish to consider wider medical coverage, given the potential problem of future insurability of the donor.
We therefore recommend that the above amendment be restricted to Singaporeans and Singapore permanent residents.
The question of financial compensation for the donor remains a difficult ethical and practical issue, and should be tailored to the specific situation in Singapore. We hope these concerns are taken into consideration in the implementation of the proposed legislation.
Professor E Kesavan
Singapore Urological Association