THE controversial legislation which allows reimbursement of living kidney donors was passed in Parliament yesterday after a heated debate.
Even after Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan assured the House that the new law did not seek to legalise organ trading, not all were convinced.
When the final vote on the amendments to the Human Organ Transplant Act (Hota) was taken, four MPs abstained and one said 'no'.
The four were Madam Halimah Yacob (Jurong GRC), Ms Denise Phua (Jalan Besar GRC), opposition Hougang MP Low Thia Khiang and Non-Constituency MP Sylvia Lim.
The dissenter was Mr Christopher de Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC), who objected on the grounds that the Bill lacked details to ensure donations would be 'not-for-profit, transparent and devoid of abuse'.
'While I agree with the principle of reimbursement...the framework in the Bill could be the subject of abuse,' he said.
All in, a dozen MPs spoke passionately on the Bill over the past two days.
They were all for three of the four changes - lifting the age limit on cadaveric donors, allowing recipients to swop donors for a better match, and increasing penalties for organ trading. But most were uncomfortable about allowing reimbursement of living kidney donors. Their main fear was that people would exploit it to induce donors to sell their kidneys, opening the back door to organ trading.
They were also worried about an uneven playing field, with the rich finding it easier than the poor to obtain kidneys.
Questions they posed: Should there be caps on payments? Should foreign donors be excluded from receiving reimbursements? What role does the Government play to safeguard against abuses?
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