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Tuesday 14 November 2023

How to Become an Organ Donor and Why You Should Become One

Every year, more than 500 patients in Singapore are in need of a life-saving organ transplant. Some of these patients are lucky enough to quickly receive a compatible organ from a living donor—who is typically a member of their family; other patients may not be as fortunate, with some having to wait anywhere from 5 up to 17 years before finding a suitable organ. This long wait time isn’t only emotionally draining, but also agonising because the reality is that some patients will die waiting because there aren’t enough available organs for transplant. 
how to become an organ donor and why you should

Singapore has one of the lowest organ donation rates in the world, with 4.48 deceased donors per million population. A possible reason for this is that Singapore is the sole Asian country adopting an opt-out organ donor system. In the Human Organ Transplant Act (HOTA), Singapore citizens and permanent residents can opt out from donating all of their organs and/or the specific organs listed under HOTA. 

To encourage more Singaporeans to become organ donors, the Ministry of Health (MOH) continues to raise public awareness to promote and facilitate organ transplants. The ministry is also dedicated to educating people about the life-saving benefits of organ donation.

Reasons to Become an Organ Donor

As a Singaporean citizen, you can perform a crucial civic duty by becoming an organ donor. When you pledge your organs for donation, you can give transplant patients a higher chance of living a better life.

Nevertheless, the decision to become an organ donor isn’t always easy. Various factors, such as your emotions, personal beliefs, and the fear of the unknown, can affect your choice and stop you from becoming a donor. However, you should also keep the following reasons that might just be the final push you need to become an organ donor:

You’re Saving Lives

Becoming an organ donor is a powerful way to directly contribute to saving lives. You provide individuals facing organ failure with a chance for a healthier and longer life, offering hope and the opportunity for a new beginning.

You’re Improving the Quality of Life of Recipients

Donated organs enable individuals to regain their health, participate in everyday activities, and enjoy a renewed sense of well-being. In short, your decision to donate directly impacts the recipients' ability to lead fulfilling lives.

You’re Giving Back to The Community

Organ donation is a selfless act of giving back to the community. By becoming a donor, you contribute to the well-being of society, fostering a sense of shared responsibility and solidarity. It also reflects your commitment to the health and welfare of the community at large.

You’re Leaving a Lasting Legacy

When you pledge to have your organs donated, you’re leaving a lasting legacy that positively influences the lives of others even after you pass on. Your decision to donate can inspire future generations and contribute to advancements in medical knowledge and research, creating a meaningful impact that extends beyond your lifetime.

How to Become an Organ Donor in Singapore

If you’ve finally decided to become an organ donor, here are two ways you can pledge your organs:

Don’t Opt Out of HOTA

Under HOTA or the Human Organ Transplant Act, all Singaporean citizens and permanent residents who are twenty-one years old and above, and are of sound mind and body, automatically become organ donors. However, this act only allows the transplantation of the donor’s liver, kidneys, heart, and corneas. To incentivise people who choose to remain as organ donors, HOTA gives them a higher priority on the waiting list should they need an organ transplant.

Thus, as a citizen of Singapore, it’s best to NOT opt out of HOTA if you want to become an organ donor. If you have opted out of HOTA before, you can withdraw your objection by downloading and filling out the blue “Withdrawal of Objection to Organ Removal” form and submitting it digitally via the National Organ Transport Unit (NOTU) Organ Donor Registry Services website.

Opt-in to MTERA

If you want to donate more of your organs, then pledge your organs under the Medical (Therapy, Education and Research) Act or MTERA. Unlike HOTA, MTERA allows you to donate your organs, as well as any of your body parts—such as your tissues, heart, lung, bone, and skin—upon your demise. Anyone regardless of nationality can pledge their organs and/or tissues to MTERA, as long as they’re 18 years old and above. Organs that are pledged under MTERA can be used for transplantation, as well as to further medical education, and support research and advancement of medical science.

As the number of organ transplant patients in Singapore increases, the demand for organ donors is also on the rise. However, since Singapore has a low organ donor rate, many transplant patients won’t be able to find a suitable organ within their lifetime. Fortunately, you can provide the gift of life and hope to those who are in need of an organ transplant by becoming a donor. Your act of compassion not only gives organ transplant patients a better chance at life, but it may also inspire others to become organ donors.