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Cablegate: Singapore to Implement Changes to Organ Transplant

VZCZCXRO0397
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHGP #1000 2880736
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 150736Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7318
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 3064
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 2401
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHDC

UNCLAS SINGAPORE 001000

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

EAP/MTS FOR MCOPPOLA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO SOCI ECON SN
SUBJECT: SINGAPORE TO IMPLEMENT CHANGES TO ORGAN TRANSPLANT
LAW

REF: A. SINGAPORE 18
B. SINGAPORE 58
C. 08 SINGAPORE 978
D. SINGAPORE 965

1. (SBU) Starting November 1, Singapore will implement
recent amendments to its Human Organ Transplant Act (HOTA),
which include a controversial measure to allow for monetary
reimbursement for living, unrelated organ donors. The HOTA
amendments followed extensive public debate about whether to
allow compensation for living donors, which was sparked by
revelations that local retail magnate TANG Wee Sung attempted
to buy a kidney from an Indonesian man he falsely claimed was
a relative (Ref A-C). Organ recipients will be able to
financially cover living organ donors for verifiable expenses
associated with a transplant, such as loss of income and
costs for travel, accommodation and medical care, so long as
the reimbursement is not an inducement to donate. While
allowing for reimbursement, the GOS increased the penalties
for organ trading, raising the maximum fine to S$100,000
(US$71,000) and the maximum prison term to ten years for
anyone caught buying or selling organs.

2. (U) The amended HOTA incorporates other changes designed
to address Singapore's domestic organ shortage. The HOTA
will: cover all Singapore citizens and permanent residents 21
years and older, unless they have opted out; eliminate the
upper age limit of 60 years for cadaveric organ donors; and
allow for paired matching, when an incompatible
donor/recipient pair is matched to another incompatible pair.


3. (SBU) One of the most controversial aspects of the HOTA
amendments was whether to allow foreigners to participate in
the reimbursement scheme for living donors. After much
public and parliamentary debate, the Ministry of Health
indicated that both resident and foreign donors could be
reimbursed. It is up to the hospitals' Transplant Ethics
Committees to review potential transplants and determine
whether the donor has received financial inducement for
donation (Ref C). Local healthcare professionals have
predicted that the amended HOTA could boost medical travel to
Singapore for transplants and enhance Singapore's reputation
as a healthcare hub. Dr. GOH Jin Hian, Group Senior Vice
President for Growth, Innovation and Strategy at Parkway
Health, told Econoff that he hopes the new HOTA will increase
the numbers of transplants performed in Singapore hospitals
like those operated by Parkway Health.

Visit Embassy Singapore's Classified website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/singapore/ind ex.cfm
SHIELDS

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