Foreigners benefit if Singapore changes organ law-paper

November 15, 2008
Singapore Democrats

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Melanie Lee

Foreigners who donate their organs in Singapore may be compensated under planned changes to the country’s organ transplant law, a newspaper reported on Saturday.

Organ trading is illegal in Singapore and anyone found guilty may be fined up to S$10,000 ($6,579), or jailed for up to a year.

However, proposed changes to the law would make it possible for donors in Singapore and from overseas to be reimbursed for medical costs if they donated their organs in Singapore.

“As a regional medical hub, we serve patients, local and foreign. If foreigners bring their own sets of relatives or donors and vice-versa … I think we should be open to that,” Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan was quoted as saying by the Straits Times newspaper.

Health officials have said that the money should not be an “inducement” for organ donations and that those involved would still have to adhere to ethical standards.

“Anything more than $5,000 will require more justification. Anything more than $10,000 is likely to be deemed inappropriate,” Khaw said.

Two Indonesians were found guilty by a Singapore court in June for illegally agreeing to sell their kidneys. Both men were sentenced to jail and fined.

Buying and selling of human organs is a lucrative business for suppliers and countries that allow foreign “transplant tourists” to have operations they cannot get at home.

According to the World Health Organization, organ traffickers in some countries can buy organs for as little as $1,000 and sell them to wealthy clients for as much as $200,000.