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Monday, July 30, 2007

Opting out vs. opting in

I haven't blogged much about organ donation of late. However, I find that this piece of news from Singapore to be very interesting. The Fatwa Committee of Singapore has issued a new edict that paves way for Muslim Singaporeans to come under the country's Human Organ Transplant Act (Hota).

What does this mean? With regards to organ donation, Singapore utilises the opt-out approach, whereby a person is assumed to have agreed to donate his organs when he dies unless he signs an opt-out form. This law previously only covers non-Muslims, but with this new edict, Muslims are governed by Hota as well. The need for this ruling has arisen as a result of too few Muslims have in Singapore have opted in to become organ pledgers. In fact, the trend in this country sees the number of Muslim pledgers falling in the last three years from 924 (2004) to 496 (2005) t0 87 (2007).

The Fatwa Committee of Singapore is of the view that:
...Hota gives a Muslim enough opportunity to opt out during his lifetime, and that this approach to obtaining consent is in keeping with Islamic law.
Malaysia, however, does not have similar laws. We use the approach of opting in should one volunteers to become an organ pledger (and hence, donor when the time comes and when the need arises). While I agree that becoming an organ pledger and eventually an organ donor should be voluntary, extra effort must be taken to ensure that those waiting for organs do not die waiting.

2 comments:

Jie said...

With all due respects, doesn't that make it seem a little communistic (is there such a word?), nothing belongs to you, even your body is owned by the gomen?

I'm sorry, but to me volunteerism is about conscience, empathy, willingness to help etc, which would be better instilled through education and exposure, rather than compulsion.

(hek eleh cakap banyak, Jie dah pledge ke? errrkkk....)

Kelana said...

In Islam, there is such a thing as "the need of the many outweighs the need of one person." My guess is (and this is purely a guess), the Fatwa Committee of Singapore uses this principle as one of the reasons for the decree. To my knowledge, no other fatwa committees has made organ donation "a compulsion" so to speak. Having said that, there are ulama such as Allahyarham Prof Dr Ahmed Zaki Badawi who clearly stated that organ donation is an obligation on all Muslims.

Still, I am of the opinion that this act of benevolence should be done voluntarily, and not be forced upon anyone. In the case of Singapore, the Muslims there still have a choice of opting out should they choose not to pledge.