NEW laws are being proposed to allow Singapore doctors to transplant the liver and corneas - not only the kidneys - of people who die.
To increase the pool of organ donors and help save more lives, the changes will cover everyone who dies and not accident victims only.
The need to expand the scope of the 15-year-old Human Organ Transplant Act is prompted mainly by the long waiting list for such organs as well as the medical advances that have been made so far, Minister of State (Health) Balaji Sadasivan said on Monday.
Doctors say that the critical shortage of organs means that some people die every year while awaiting a transplant operation.
With the proposed changes, almost 50 more people suffering from liver and kidney failure could be saved each year from an estimated 12 more donors.
But, sensitive to possible objections, the Government will adopt a cautious approach, seeking feedback from the public as well as consulting religious and medical groups.
The Health Ministry's director of medical services, Prof Tan Chorh Chuan said: “When you have a proposal that's too wide-ranging, people may reject it as out of hand. We're trying to have a balanced approach which meets the needs of the most needy patients.”
A series of forums will be held to discuss the proposals which, doctors said, could help ease the shortage.
For example, almost 700 people were on the list for a kidney transplant last year, and five died waiting.
For liver transplants, 22 found donors but 11 died waiting.
The recommendations to change the Act will be presented to the Government later this year.
The Act currently requires people to opt out if they do not want their organs removed after death, except for the Muslims who, because of religious reasons, are allowed to opt in. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network
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