Altruistic organ donations are rare in S'pore

Bryan Liu's family is not supposed to meet the donor, no matter how grateful they may be.

And it is for a sensible and practical purpose.

Said Dr Akira Wu, 62, a renal physician in Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre: "It is to avoid possible financial and emotional entanglement between the donor and the recipient and his family members."

An altruistic donation means the donor should not gain anything from it, he said.

He also said that a kidney transplant involving a living altruistic donor is very rare.

He said: "I've done at least 300 kidney transplants over 20 years and I've never done any altruistic case involving Singaporeans."

He has carried out only two altruistic kidney transplants, both involving Myanmar monks as living donors.

Besides getting a kidney through living donors, kidney failure patients can also get donations from deceased donors.

Waiting list

As of March this year, there were 448 patients on the national waiting list for a kidney transplant, said a Ministry of Health (MOH) spokesman.

The Human Organ Transplant Act (Hota) covers legislation pertaining to organ donation and transplantation.

MOH's websitestates that payments to altruistic living donors are allowed, but only for reimbursing or defraying the costs or expenses or loss of earnings that may be reasonably incurred as a result of organ donation.

They include the costs for health checks, laboratory tests, donation operations and follow-up visits, and limited indirect costs such as loss of earnings by self-employed or daily-wage workers.

But the selling or buying of organs is prohibited under Hota.

Any person convicted of being involved in the buying and selling of organs can be fined up to $100,000 or jailed up to 10 years or both.

Number of S'pore citizens and permanent residents who have undergone a kidney transplant in the last 5 years

Dead donor kidney transplants

36 2011

36 2010

41 2009

46 2008

46 2007

Living donor kidney transplants 31 2011

25 2010

28 2009

27 2008

37 2007

Source: Live On website

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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