Singapore has a genius organ transplant system that the rest of the world should copy

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Singapore has adopted a policy on organ donation which is very different to the opt in system

Organ donations help to save lives, but often healthcare systems struggle to source enough organs to keep up with demand.

This can lead to long waiting times for people who need a transplant, especially for patients who have specific requirements.

Many countries have a system where people can opt in to be an organ donor.

This means that you have to consciously make the decision to allow people to use any viable organs left after you’re gone.

Tragically, organ donations can often be sourced from victims of road traffic collisions, as these have a higher incidence of being younger and otherwise healthy people.

In many countries, this is still contingent on the person involved making the decision to sign up as an organ donor.

This approach often means that there are not enough available organs for the people who need them, and waiting lists are longer.

However, Singapore has opted to take a different approach to how it deals with organ donation.

Many countries have an opt in organ donation policy. (Peter Dazeley / Getty)

Many countries have an opt in organ donation policy. (Peter Dazeley / Getty)

This is because in Singapore the policy is not to opt in, but instead you have to opt out if you don’t want to be an organ donor.

The law is that anyone over the age of 21 and of legally sound mind is automatically added to the register of organ donors.

Singapore introduced the law in 2023 as the demand for organs was rising exponentially, but the quantity of available organs was not rising to match.

The law also only covers four specific organs which are commonly used in transplants.

These are the heart, cornea, kidney, and the brain.

Other parts of the body such as skin, bone, or any other tissues are still on an opt-in basis.

This is also not the only way that Singapore is trying to motivate more people to donate their organs.

The policy was intended to increase the supply of organs. (Peter Dazeley / Getty)

The policy was intended to increase the supply of organs. (Peter Dazeley / Getty)

A more controversial part of the policy says that if someone does choose to opt out of donating their organs then, should they ever need a transplant, they will be placed further down the waiting list than someone who did not opt out.

While this is clearly intended to create an incentive for people to not opt out, it raises questions around consent and the principle of how medical treatment should be given.

Many would argue that treatment should be triaged according to the patients with the greatest medical urgency, regardless of any decision they may or may not have made.

While trying to make more organs available is undoubtedly a good moral end, is punishing people for not doing it an ethical way to go about it?

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