Support available for living organ donors

We thank Mr Cheng Choon Fei for his feedback on Singapore's organ transplant policy (Organ transplant policy needs revamp, April 17).

The Human Organ Transplant Act (Hota) allows for the kidneys, liver, heart and corneas to be recovered for the purpose of transplantation, in the event of death from any cause.

For kidney transplants, the number of patients has increased from 69 in 2013 to 81 in 2018.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) and National Organ Transplant Unit (Notu) are continuing to push for more transplants.

Indeed, kidney transplant from a live donor remains the best option for patients with end-stage kidney failure.

Patients who undergo a transplant have higher long-term survival rates than those who undergo dialysis.

To address Mr Cheng's suggestions, there are existing avenues to help living organ donors mitigate the financial cost of the transplant surgery.

Under Hota, which also regulates living donor organ transplants, recipients can reimburse their living donors for the loss of earnings and other costs or expenses, including medical care and insurance protection, incurred as a result of the organ donation.

In addition, patients may find difficulties in broaching the subject on living donation with their family and loved ones, and hesitate in getting a donation from their children or loved ones for fear that they might experience organ failure in future.

To address these concerns, MOH, Notu and the public-sector organ transplant centres will be stepping up engagements with donors to better understand their views and raise awareness of the minimal risks associated with living donation.

These efforts also aim to raise societal consciousness and acceptance of organ donation as a commendable and generous gift of life.

Tan Chee Kiat (Adjunct Professor)

Director,

National Organ Transplant Unit

Ministry of Health

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 29, 2019, with the headline 'Support available for living organ donors'. Print Edition | Subscribe