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Singapore to legalise organ trade

The trade in human kidneys for transplants may become legal in Singapore, its health minister has said.

The health ministry is considering paying unrelated donors to boost the supply of organs, according to Khaw Boon Wan.
Khaw said: “We should not reject any idea just because it is radical or controversial. We may be able to find an acceptable way to allow a meaningful compensation for some living, unrelated kidney donors, without breaching ethical principles or hurting the sensitivities of others.”

Khaw said the ministry would review possible changes to current legislation to allow payments for donations from third parties such as those from the charity and religious sectors. Under the proposal, which would need to be approved by parliament to become law, patients would also get help in finding donors.

Khaw also said the health ministry would push to amend existing laws on organ transplants to remove an age limit on deceased donors, currently set at 60 years, because “the suitability of the organ depends on its condition rather than the age of the donor.”

Mr Nadey Hakim, a consultant general surgeon at St Mary’s Hospital, London has long called for payment to be legalised in the UK.

He told the British Medical Journal: “We’ve seen statistics that suggest one third of patients who go abroad for kidney transplants either reject their new kidney or die. I’ve received a lot of support on this from colleagues, patients, even doctors I’ve never met.”
The two initiatives should enable Singapore to carry out 70% of the kidney transplants needed every year – up from 50% currently, the minister said.

Copyright PA Business 2008