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Organ Donation

Giving at its altruistic sense


Just three months ago, Singapore was touched deeply by the story of Daniel Jacob, a three-year old boy who became the country’s youngest organ donor. Daniel died weeks after a swimming accident, which left him brain-dead. In the midst of debates pertaining to organ donation issues, Jacob’s parents, Joe Jacob and Shiji Abraham, surprised the whole nation by consenting to the removal and donation of their son’s kidney and corneas. According to reports, an 11-year-old girl was the recipient of Daniel’s kidneys, while two adults benefited from his corneas.1

Whether the donor is alive or dead, organ donation is undoubtedly the most altruistic act of giving. To give something of yourself, literally, so others can live or their suffering end, is beyond selfless. Organ donation is the process of removal and transplantation of viable organs from donor to recipient. Experts say one organ donor can save or end the suffering of as many as 50 people.

Organ donation in Singapore

According to Live On − a social awareness movement which aims to create consciousness and education on organ donation − as of September 2009, 468 people are on the organ waiting list in Singapore. And some of whom have already waited as long as 19 years. From 1998 to 2003, the number of people on a waiting list for a kidney increased to about 673.

The growing demand for organ donors must have prompted the country to enact the Human Organ Transplant Act (HOTA). HOTA refers to the law that allows for the removal for donation of the corneas, heart, kidney, and liver upon death of all Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents, 21 years and above and who have not opted out. So far, this law has helped save many lives each year.

Under HOTA, reports say there are at least 52 hearts, 144 livers, 1,080 kidneys and 1,181 corneas which had been successfully transplanted at the end of last year.

Religious perspectives

Although some impose certain restrictions, most religions, like the Roman Catholic or Islam, generally accept organ donation as an act of love and selflessness.


Catholics view organ and tissue donation as an act of charity and love. Transplants are morally and ethically acceptable to the Vatican. Pope John Paul II has stated, “The Catholic Church would promote the fact that there is a need for organ donors and that Christians should accept this as a ‘challenge to their generosity and fraternal love’ so long as ethical principles are followed.”2


The religion of Islam believes in the principle of saving human lives. According to A. Sachedina in his Transplantation Proceedings’ (1990) article, Islamic Views on Organ Transplantation, “the majority of the Muslim scholars belonging to various schools of Islamic law have invoked the principle of priority of saving human life and have permitted the organ transplant as a necessity to procure that noble end.”2


According to the Hindu Temple Society of North America, Hindus are not prohibited by religious law from donating their organs. This act is an individual’s decision. H. L. Trivedi, in Transplantation Proceedings, stated that, “Hindu mythology has stories in which the parts of the human body are used for the benefit of other humans and society. There is nothing in the Hindu religion indicating that parts of humans, dead or alive, cannot be used to alleviate the suffering of other humans.”2


Buddhists believe that organ and tissue donation is a matter of individual conscience and place high value on acts of compassion. Reverend Gyomay Masao, president and founder of the Buddhist Temple of Chicago says, “We honor those people who donate their bodies and organs to the advancement of medical science and to saving lives.” The importance of letting loved ones know your wishes is stressed. 2

The gift of life

He eventually succumbed to his illness, but Apple founder, Steve Jobs, was a recipient of a liver from a kid who died in an accident two years ago. This motivated him to help push an organ donor registry bill in California in 2010, encouraging drivers to sign up as organ donors.

Through organ donation, recipients are not only given a second life, they are given a second chance to make their lives more meaningful for others and for themselves. Some of the most moving testimonials of organ
recipients are posted on Live On website,

It wasn’t just one more chance, it was restarting life again.

– Vanitha Sassendran, waited for four and a half years before she finally found a
suitable donor3

You could say my life is all about second chances.

– Keng Siang, waited nine months to receive a liver transplant3

What does organ donation mean to me? It means a gift to live a full and fulfilling life. Everyone should support organ donation because others who are ill deserve the same opportunity that I got.

– Nurashikin Jasman, waited eight years for a kidney transplant3


1. The Straits Times

2. SEOPF/UNOS, Organ and Tissue Donation: A Reference Guide for Clergy, 4th ed., 2000. Cooper ML, Taylor GJ, eds. Richmond, VA


By Maripet L. Poso
Posted by ezyhealth on Dec 9 2011. Filed under Lifestyle. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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