Boosting organ donation goes beyond doctors' role

Boosting organ donation goes beyond doctors' role

MONDAY'S commentary talked about the role of doctors in organ donation and its impact on organ donation rates ("Doctors have key role in organ donation").

Organ donation is a personal and emotive issue.

Potential brain-dead donor situations are often emotionally stressful for next of kin who are already struggling with the loss of their loved one.

Doctors and health-care providers strive to give grieving families the appropriate time, space and respect to deal with their grief and make the necessary end-of-life decisions, including organ donation.

Hence, doctors do play an important role in facilitating the organ donation process, in their conversations with the potential donor's next of kin at the end of life, so that the expressed wishes of the donor can be honoured appropriately.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) supports this by regularly conducting training programmes to equip hospital staff with the skills to communicate sensitively and clearly with the family members of potential donors.

Hospital staff are on hand to explain the organ donation process, to hear their concerns and to clarify any related issues.

However, a country's organ donation rates are influenced by many other factors. These include public awareness of and buy-in for organ donation, and one's personal and religious views on life and death.

Recognising the importance of increasing the awareness of organ donation, the MOH will also be stepping up its public education efforts this year to remind Singaporeans of the life-transforming benefits that organ donation can bring.

For those who are not covered under the Human Organ Transplant Act (Hota) or wish to donate beyond the four organs covered under Hota, we encourage them to become an organ pledger under the Medical Therapy, Education and Research Act.

For those who have already decided to be organ donors, we encourage you to inform your next of kin of your decision and empower them to respect your wishes when called upon to do so.

For those who wish to find out more about organ donation, please refer to the MOH website on

Kwek Tong Kiat (Clinical Associate Professor)

Senior Consultant, Ministry of Health

Senior Consultant, Tan Tock Seng Hospital

Lee Heow Yong (Dr)

Director, Hospital Services Division

Health Services Group

Ministry of Health

This article was first published on March 11, 2015.
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