My view was that it was feasible to legalise such activities. I felt that the organ donors should be entitled to receive payment. I also felt that the payment amount should be fixed by law (and not allowed to operate as a free market), and could be periodically reviewed and revised.
The Singapore government has now announced that it will proceed substantially on those lines.
Khaw says that it is not ethical to "pay" someone for an organ. However, he also says that it's ethical to "compensate" someone for an organ ... so long as the amount is "not so big as to induce".
ST Nov 1, 2008
Kidney law to change
By Salma Khalik
FROM early next year, the law will be changed to allow compensation for live kidney donors.
The amount should not be so large that it's seen as inducement, said Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan when he announced it yesterday.
Both the World Health Organisation and countries like the United States say it is ethical to compensate donors, so they do not suffer for their act of altruism.
Mr Khaw said the amount of compensation is not 'hard wired' into legislations of countries such as the US, Britain and Australia that allow it. Singapore will follow suit.
He hinted that the sum will be at least five figures, and possibly six. The actual amount of just compensation will be left to a committee, which will be set up to look into this.
In the recent organ trading case involving former retail magnate Tang Wee sung, the indonesian donor was to have received $23,700 for his kidney, from the $300,000 Mr Tang paid the agent.
That case sparked a debate on whether it is ethical to pay someone for an organ. Yesterday, Mr Khaw repeated that it is not ethical to do so.
But he added, 'The ethical community, including the World Health Organisation, has clarified that it is ethical to compensate, so long as the compensation amount is not so big as to induce.'
So he tries to change the packaging, but the substance is still the same. "Pay", "compensate", whatever you call it, it's still money. Whether the amount is big enough or not big enough, to "induce", well, those are all highly subjective considerations.
To me, the biggest consideration is the need to save human lives.