There are two ways for organ donation after death in Singapore.
Human Organ Transplant Act (HOTA)
The Human Organ Transplant Act makes it compulsory for the donation of certain organs after death in Singapore. It applies to all Singapore citizens and permanent residents aged 21 and above, irrespective of their religions. It may apply for those under the age of 21 if permission from the parent/ guardian of the deceased has been obtained.
The specified organs governed by the HOTA includes the kidneys, the liver, the heart and the corneas. Such organs will be harvested after the deceased’s death in a hospital, if suitable. The removal of such organs from the deceased’s body should be by an approved medical practitioner only.
If you intend to opt out of the donation scheme under HOTA, you may use the HOTA Opt-Out form and register an objection with the Director of Medical Services. The completed form should be sent to the National Organ Transplant Unit.
The objection can also be withdrawn subsequently if you change your mind. You should complete the Withdrawal of Objection to Organ Removal Form and send it to the National Organ Transplant Unit.
If you were to opt out of the HOTA, you will be given lower priority if you were to need an organ transplant subsequently. Upon withdrawal of the objection, you will be given the same priority as someone who has never objected after a period of 2 years from the date on which the withdrawal is received by the Director of Medical Services, provided that you do not register another objection during the 2-year period.
Voluntary Organ Donation After Death in Singapore for Science
This is different from the HOTA, in that it functions as an opt-in system (rather than opt-out system). The Medical (Therapy, Education and Research) Act allows anyone who is above 18 years old to donate their organs and tissues for the purposes of “medical or dental education, research, advancement of medical or dental science, therapy and transplantation”. Any gift must be made by the donor in writing or orally in the presence of at least 2 witnesses during a last illness.
Under Section 10 of the Act, the donee may be specified or not specified. Hence, it is possible to donate to a particular person.
The purpose of the gift must be to:
1. Allow an approved medical or dental school to use the organ for the purpose of education, research or advancement of medical/ dental science.
2. Allow an approved hospital to conduct medical/ dental education or research.
3. Any specified person for treatment or transplantation.
On the other hand, revocation of the intention for organ donation after death in Singapore can be done by way of:
1. Sending a signed document to the donee.
2. Making an oral statement in the presence of 2 or more witnesses and that is communicated to the done.
3. A written document indicating the donor’s revocation.
Living Donor Organ Transplant
If you are alive and you wish to make an organ donation, you may only donate your kidney or part of your liver. You will have to attend mandatory counselling sessions by the Ministry of Health to understand the risks involved. An expert panel from the Transplant Ethics Committee of the hospital will review your physical and mental health. You can specify the recipient, or choose not to. If the donee is a family member, you will have a mandatory one week cooling off period. If the donee is not a family member, you will have a mandatory one month cooling off period.
For the transplant procedure to be carried out, the following requirements must be met:
1. The transplant ethics committee of the hospital where the transplant is to take place has given their consent.
The donor has given his/ her consent and has not revoked such consent.
Organ trading is illegal in Singapore.
You should consult the relevant authorities if you have more questions on organ donation after death in Singapore.
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