COUNTER VIEW: Singapore makes post-mortem organ donation mandatory

Posted by Prodosh Mitra under Opinions on 9 March 2007

Laws such as the one in Singapore will ensure that even death won't free a person from the state's clutches.

Scuffle for organs sparks donor debate

Sim's 68-year-old mother and about 20 other relatives knelt weeping before the doctors, begging them to wait, nine police officers and about 10 hospital security staff members restrained the distraught family - while Sim's body was taken away.

The family was tricked to leave the ward, and the patient was wheeled away. The family members saw and cried and wanted to rush in, but were physically blocked by police. The family was so outraged that they confronted the police as the operation was forcibly carried out.

Last week, doctors in a Singapore hospital turned off the life support of a patient in spite of his family's protests so that his organs could be used for transplants.

This was done under an Act, which allows hospitals to remove kidneys, liver, heart and corneas of all non-Muslim citizens when they die unless they have given their objections in writing.

The ramifications of such a legislation, which is there in some other countries too, is horrifying. This amounts to the ultimate invasion of privacy.

It means that even in death a person's body has no sanctity the state can defile it as it pleases. The modern state, as philosophers such as Foucault have so tellingly described, tracks every little detail of an individual's life.

Laws such as the one in Singapore will ensure that even death won't free a person from the state's clutches.

The other objectionable aspect of compulsory donation of organs is the disregard for free choice. It must be left to an individual whether he wants to donate his organs after death.

This must be a voluntary decision and cannot be imposed by the state. Ironically, in the Singapore incident the patient's family had no objection to his organs being used for transplants, but wanted doctors to wait one more day before turning off the life support system.

But this plea was disregarded by the government in its unseemly haste to procure healthy organs. The government offer to subsidise hospital fees for five years for the patient's parents in no way compensated them for their trauma and loss.

It is well known that there is a shortage of organs for transplants, which has led to a thriving black market to meet the demands of patients.

But that is no reason to make organ donation compulsory. To encourage organ donation, government can run awareness campaigns and offer various incentives; the state cannot, however, force it on an individual.

Sources and Relevant Links:

Times of India COUNTER VIEW: Singapore makes post-mortem organ donation mandatory

Matrixisland Singapore: Scuffle for organs sparks donor debate

Matrixisland Mr Policeman, are you Professional?
27 February 2007, English Version & Chinese Version

Matrixisland THE ABUSE OF HOTA: Insider's Information

This is what they do, when they "beo" your kidneys, liver, eyes, the moment you are admitted to hospital

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