Organ transplant policy needs revamp

Our current organ transplant policy needs a revamp. There aren't enough incentives to prevent people from opting out of the Human Organ Transplant Act (New organ transplant centre to offer better care, shorter wait, April 13).

But it is re-examing the rules about living donor organ transplants that could make a difference.

Perhaps it is time to look at some form of reimbursement or compensation for living organ donors.

This could take the form of a contribution to the donor's retirement fund, an income tax credit, a tuition voucher, lifetime health insurance, a contribution to a charity of a donor's choice or even an offer to pay off his debts.

There could also be payment for lost wages, travel and childcare expenses when donors take time off for the donation process.

Compensation of some sort, with a package of non-cash benefits for kidney donors, for example, would likely increase the supply of living donors and will also not be seen as a form of exploitation.

The savings from stopping dialysis after transplantation far outweigh the non-cash incentives.

Compensation would likely ease the kidney shortage, enabling many more patients with kidney failure to obtain transplants and live longer and healthier lives.

Low-income kidney recipients and donors also stand to benefit greatly.

Government compensation may help to save taxpayers' money that is used to fund dialysis and follow-up treatments.

Cheng Choon Fei

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 17, 2019, with the headline 'Organ transplant policy needs revamp'. Print Edition | Subscribe