Originally meant to save more lives, the Human Organ Transplant Act (Hota) states that kidneys, livers, hearts and corneas suitable for transplant can be removed from all Singaporeans and permanent residents upon their death as defined by the Act – unless they have opted out. But controversy erupted over the Act when the family of a brain-dead 43-year-old crane operator clashed with hospital staff who wanted to harvest the man’s organs at Singapore General Hospital on February 6.
As Ng Wan Ching asked in an article titled “One S’porean says: I opted out because… I wanted to send message” in The New Paper: “What if the doctors and hospitals in their eagerness to save lives with donor organs do not do as much as they should to save your life? Worse, what if they make a mistake and take your organs before you are truly dead?”
However, Hell Minister Khaw Boon Wan was reported as saying, “The donor was (probably) around 21 or 22 when HOTA was introduced in this House. I remember there was widespread public debate. He was an educated man. I’m sure he was fully aware of HOTA and the fact that if he did not opt out, it would mean that he wanted to save lives in the event of a sudden death. So we should respect their wishes.”
Gosh, this is what we call “死无对证” in Chinese (or “stop putting words in my mouth” for the uninitiated). If you read the insider story titled “Lee Kuan Yew is an honest man” by The Human Battery on his The Matrix Island blog, you’ll feel even more so.
As if that’s not enough, National Neuroscience director Lee Wei Ling (no prize for guessing who she’s related to) went on to say that “whoever opts out, if he or she ever needs an organ, he or she goes to the bottom of the waiting list”. Well, that a typical PAP response to an issue – penalise and penalise.
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