FAQ

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  1. 1. Can I decide to whom I want my organs to be donated?

    Organs donated under HOTA are intended for donation to the common pool of patients on the respective organ transplant waiting lists. It is therefore neither possible to specify the recipients of organs recovered under HOTA, nor specifically exclude certain people from receiving organs. It is also not possible to release donor information to organ recipients.


  2. 2. Will my body be disfigured after organ donation?

    The donor’s body will always be cared for with the utmost respect by the transplant team. The same surgical standards being applied to any living person undergoing surgery will also be applied to organ donors. Any incisions made during the removal of organs are carefully repaired after the procedure. In the case of cornea donation, only the cornea (the front part of the eye the size and shape of a contact lens) is removed and a plastic cap is inserted afterwards. The eye remains otherwise intact.


  3. 3. Will the medical care of potential organ donors be compromised to expedite the recovery of organs?

    Medicine is an ethical profession. No doctor would risk one life to save another. Every patient is given full medical care and every chance at survival irrespective of suitability and acceptance of organ donation. Organ donation is only considered after death has been declared by two independent doctors who are not involved in the care of the patient.


  4. 4. Would relatives of donors be made to pay for the costs of organ recovery?

    The hospital bills for any organ donation-related procedures and tests are not charged to the donor’s family.


  5. 5. If I have not opted out of HOTA, and I die at home, will my body be brought to hospital for transplantation purposes?

    No, HOTA only applies to death in hospitals which fulfil specific conditions.


  6. 6. If I have not opted out of HOTA, and I die in the hospital, will my organs be recovered for transplantation?

    Organs will be recovered only if the following conditions are fulfilled:

    • The donor is 21 years old and above, is not mentally disordered, and is not a registered objector.
    • The donor’s organs are suitable for transplantation.
    • There is a suitable recipient(s) to benefit from the organ(s) recovered.


  7. 7. How will the suitability and allocation of organs from older donors be determined?

    There are internationally established protocols for evaluating organs from older donors to ensure the suitability of the organs for transplantation. To ensure optimum transplant outcomes, the allocation of organs will depend on the medical evaluation of organs and clinical parameters, such as blood group and tissue matching with potential recipients.


  8. 8. Are older organs suitable for donation?

    With increasing life expectancy, healthier ageing and improvement in health technology, it is now becoming clearer that the condition of an internal organ is not always linked to age. Hence, most countries no longer have an upper age limit for organ donation.


  9. 9. Will older organ failure patients waiting for an organ also benefit from these changes?

    The upper age limit of 60 years for patients to be placed on the kidney transplant waiting list has been removed. This would mean that elderly patients suffering from organ failure will now have an opportunity to benefit from organ transplant if they are medically suitable.


  10. 10. Will HOTA apply to citizens who passed away in a foreign country?

    HOTA does not apply to deaths that occur overseas.

  1. 11. Can I donate more than what is covered under HOTA?

    Yes, Medical (Therapy, Education and Research) Act (MTERA) is an opt-in scheme, where people can pledge to donate their organs or any body part for the purpose of transplantation, education or research upon their death. A full body donation is also possible under MTERA. Under MTERA, you can choose to donate all your organs and tissues or specify those you wish to donate.

    To pledge your organs under MTERA, you have to be:

    • 18 years old and above, and are not mentally disordered.

    Register your decision to be an organ donor by following these steps:

    • Fill in the Organ Donation Pledge Form Here
    • Send the completed form to the following address:

      National Organ Transplant Unit
      c/o Singapore General Hospital
      Singapore 169608

    Dealing with the loss of a loved one is never easy. If you would like to be an organ donor, do inform your family members about your decision to donate your organs after death, so that they can take comfort in the fact that their loss may help to save or improve the lives of others.


  2. 12. I am a foreigner. Can I donate my organs?

    Yes, foreigners can choose to pledge their organs under MTERA. This pledge is effective only if the foreigner passes away in Singapore. However, if a pledge has not been made, the next-of-kin can be approached for consent to organ donation.

  1. 13. How will the body be recovered under a whole body donation?

    If death occurs at the hospital, the body will be transferred to the mortuary, and collected by the assigned hospitals or university on the same day.

    If death occurs at home or other locations other than the hospital, the next of kin should contact the National Organ Transplant Unit (NOTU). NOTU will then inform the assigned hospitals or university to make arrangements to collect the body from the location on the same day.

    Staff from the assigned hospitals or university will speak to the deceased’s family before the body is released to sort out any requests or questions the family members may have.


  2. 14. What is the criteria for a whole body donation?

    Bodies cannot be used if the person had an infectious disease such as Tuberculosis (TB), Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C or HIV. Bodies of those with chronic illnesses or cancer may still be used for education and research purposes.


  3. 15. How will the body be used?

    Bodies or cadavers are used to teach medical, dental, nursing, pharmacy and life sciences undergraduates and postgraduate students. Cadavers are embalmed before storing in chillers. Through the use of a cadaver, students learn about the structures of the human body close-up, such as the position of organs and blood vessels, and which major arteries should not be punctured during medical procedures. After classes, the cadavers are put back in the chillers.

    Students are taught to treat the human bodies with respect. The cadavers are used for 6 months to three years. Afterwards, the remains are cremated and the ashes returned to the families of those who had donated their bodies to science.

    If you require further clarifications, please contact the National Organ Transplant Unit at 6321 4390.

  1. 16. What is the difference between cardiac death and brain death?

    Cardiac Death

    Cardiac death happens when the heart stops beating irreversibly. At the point of cardiac death, all vital functions of the body stop. The vital organs quickly become unusable for transplantation after cardiac death. However tissues such as bone, skin, heart valves and corneas can be donated within 24 hours of death.

    Brain Death

    In some cases, when there is a brain injury (e.g. due to an accident or stroke), the brain may stop functioning before the heart. Brain death means there is no flow of blood or oxygen to the brain and therefore, the brain cannot function in its capacity and never will again. Other organs, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, pancreas or liver, may function for a brief period of time after brain death if the person is supported on a ventilator. Unless damaged by disease or injury, these organs may benefit other individuals in need of organ transplants.

    Donation of vital organs such as the kidneys, heart and liver is usually possible only after brain death. Brain death is accepted as the legal definition of death in Singapore and in other advanced countries. It is determined based on a standard, well-defined set of clinical criteria. This definition is similar to those used in countries such as Australia, Canada, Denmark, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.


  2. 17. How is death certified?

    There are well-defined and internationally accepted clinical criteria and tests for certification of death, including brain death. The clinical criteria for death must be met in the patient, as observed by two doctors, before death can be certified. Should the two doctors have differing opinions, death would not be certified. The two doctors who examine the patient must:

    • Not have been involved in the care or treatment of the patient being certified;
    • Not belong to the team of medical practitioners who will remove the organ from the body;
    • Not have been involved in the selection of the proposed recipient of the organ; and
    • Not be involved in the care or treatment of the proposed recipient of the organ during his hospitalisation for the transplant.


  3. 18. Is there a difference between being brain dead and being in a coma?

    Being comatose is being in a state where a person is unarousable but tests confirm that some brain functions are still present. A comatose person may still recover or regain consciousness. Organs are never taken from a person in a coma. Brain death is when a person is unarousable and tests confirm that all brain functions have stopped irreversibly. Persons declared brain dead cannot recover or regain consciousness again.


  4. 19. Can someone who is declared brain dead come back to life?

    Brain death can be heartrending and difficult to accept, particularly for families who are confronted with the sudden death of someone they love. There is no clinically documented case where a patient who has been declared brain dead following proper procedures, is later restored to a normal life. Brain death is recorded only following certification by two independent medical practitioners.

  1. 20. What are living donor organ transplants and what are the concerns in such transplants?

    In living organ donation, organ transplant doctors are able to perform stringent medical tests to assess the suitability and viability of both the donor and the recipient before performing the organ transplant, thereby increasing the chance of a successful surgery. Living organ transplant also increases the pool of organs for recipients as deceased donor rates remain low.

    Since living donors have to undergo surgery for organ donation, there are risks involved. These risks can differ among donors and also according to the organ donated. You should consult your doctor on your suitability to become a living donor.


  2. 21. Do living donors have to bear the medical and surgical costs for their organ donation?

    HOTA will allow for payments to altruistic living donors, only for reimbursing or defraying the costs or expenses or loss of earnings that may be reasonably incurred as a result of organ donation. This will include costs for health checks, laboratory tests, donation operations, follow-up visits and limited indirect costs such as loss of earnings by self-employed or daily-wage workers.

    It is important for a donor to fully understand the medical and financial implications of donation. Once this is done, the donor may choose to seek reimbursement for expenses incurred in relation to donation. However, this will not be compulsory. Donors can waive the right to receive reimbursement or payment from the recipient.


  3. 22. How are living donor organ transplants regulated?

    Prior authorisation from the hospitals’ Transplant Ethics Committee (TEC) is required before any living donor organ transplant can proceed. The TEC has to be satisfied that two major professional and ethical concerns are adequately addressed. First, the donor must thoroughly understand the nature and consequences of the medical procedures and give his or her full informed consent. Second, there must not be any form of coercion or financial inducement to donate the organ. This applies to all living donor organ transplants, regardless of whether the donor and recipient are related or not.


  4. 23. What are the penalties for organ trading?

    The selling or buying of organs is strictly prohibited under HOTA. Any person who is involved in the buying and selling of organs shall be liable on conviction to a maximum fine of $100,000 or a maximum imprisonment term of 10 years or both.

  1. 24. Does HOTA allow me to opt out from donating a specific organ?

    Yes. Anyone who does not wish to donate a particular organ can register his objections using the form below and send it to the National Organ Transplant Unit. The registrant can opt out of any or all of the four organs under HOTA.


  2. 25. What are the implications of opting out of HOTA?

    Anyone who opts out of HOTA would receive lower priority for receiving an organ on the national waiting list should he/she require an organ transplant in the future. This would apply specifically to the organs which he opted out of.


  3. 26. If I want to opt out of HOTA, what should I do?

    We understand that the decision not to be an organ donor is a personal choice. If you do not wish to donate your organs, you can register your objection by following these steps:

    • Fill in the HOTA Opt-out form Here
    • Send the completed form to the following address:

      National Organ Transplant Unit
      c/o Singapore General Hospital
      Singapore 169608

  4. 27. Can I withdraw my objections to HOTA?

    Yes, an objection can be withdrawn any time. You can withdraw your objection by following these steps:

    • Fill in the form Here

    • Send the completed form to the following address:

      National Organ Transplant Unit
      c/o Singapore General Hospital
      Singapore 169608