Voices Of Youth

Make organ donation a mandated choice

It is heartbreaking to read about the tragic accident in Slovakia that claimed Mr Justin Tan's life ("NTU student dies in freak accident in Slovakia"; Nov 30).

Despite the loss of their son, Mr Tan's parents found the courage to allow his organs to be donated.

Under the Human Organ Transplant Act, a presumed consent scheme passed in 1987, every Singaporean and permanent resident aged 21 and above is an organ donor by default unless one opts out.

However, rarely will doctors take a person's organs without the family's consent, and few families will agree to the procedure, amid their grief.

As a result, Singapore is facing an organ shortage.

Patients often have to wait nine to 10 years for a kidney transplant and one or two years for a liver or a heart ("Organ donations remain low despite changes to law"; May 23).

Presumed consent is ineffective in raising organ donation rates in Singapore.

I propose replacing it with a system of mandated choice, where all Singaporeans will be required to decide, when they are of a certain age, if they wish to donate their organs upon death.

This could be implemented by presenting Singaporeans with the choice to be an organ donor when they renew their identity card, upon turning 21 and not 30.

Those who choose to opt out of the scheme will be placed lower on the waiting list, should they ever require an organ transplant.

Mandated choice will not only give Singaporeans a chance to seriously reflect on their stance on organ donation upon reaching adulthood, but will also remove the dilemma faced by their families in our current system.

Raphael Niu Zi Yuan, 11,
Primary 5 pupil

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 07, 2016, with the headline 'Make organ donation a mandated choice'. Print Edition | Subscribe