Opt out of HOTA if you really care about your family

In 2007, a crane operator was in a coma - declared brain dead after he collapsed at work from a stroke. His family and relatives were hoping that he would awake from his coma.

Under the Human Organ Transplant Act (Hota), organs suitable for transplant can be removed from all Singaporeans and permanent residents (except Muslims) upon their death unless they have opted out of the scheme. The man did not opt out the scheme, therefore the hospital has the right to remove his organs.

The doctors at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) agreed to delay the operation by 24 hours. But when he still did not awake from his coma, the man's organs were removed by the doctors at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) despite protests and pleas from his family for another 24 hours. The doctors felt that a delay would make the organs unusable for transplant. It was reported that his mother and five other relatives went down on their knees to beg doctors to delay the operation.

I had always supported organ donation and not opting out of the scheme. However, after reading how devastated Mr Sim Tee Hua's family was, I realise that not opting out can be an extremely selfish thing to do. Sure, organ donation is a good thing and we like to think that we are doing good for other human beings by giving them a chance at a better life. We are psycho-ed into thinking that by not opting out, we are saving our family the difficult decision of deciding whether to donate our organs or pulling the plug on us so that we don't become a burden to them. But do we consider the feelings of our family in the event something similar happens to us? The family was obviously not ready to let go yet.

I'm therefore opting out the scheme. I trust that my family would be able to make the right decision for me. They would know that I would willingly give up my organs if I'm dead - and when they are ready to let me go. And who knows? My mother may have the nagging feeling that I'm going to wake up the next day and she may even be right! Giving the hospital the right over my organs is like trusting them over my family.

To allow strangers to remove my organs for the sake of other strangers so that I can feel altruistic while my family is on their knees begging for more time would be the most selfish thing I could ever do.

If you want to opt-out too, complete and mail this form. No stamps needed.


Anonymous said...

You should not opt out of HOTA.

If you need a transplant, HOTA users are given priority over non-HOTA users. Unless you prefer others to get the transplant instead of yourself then opt out.

Or if you were to be involved in an accident and your family would rather burn all yr organs instead of using them to save others and deny them of a chance to live, then opt out too. :D

Yu-Kym said...

What makes you think my family would rather burn my organs than donate them?

As for being in the priority list, somebody's going to get the organs anyway - maybe someone who needs it more than I do. Maybe I'd rather die than live on medication the rest of my life.

This priority list is probably going the way of the blood donation priority list.

Anonymous said...

He was brain dead....it means he's dead...

Yu-Kym said...

Doctors do make mistakes and wrongly declare patients as brain dead. And there has been "miracles" that science cannot explain.
Whether the patient is really brain-dead or not, that's not the right way to treat the family. I certainly don't want my family treated that way. I don't want my family to have to go down on their knees to beg the heartless doctors.

Anonymous said...

What utter irrational emotionally skewed thinking and shortsightedness from Yu-Kym! I am very disappointed with her stance.

curious cat

Anonymous said...

What? you mean you have alraedy asked all y r family members and they said they will donate yr organs in case anything happens to you? Or you just "know" they wont burn?

As for the priority list, u might need it more than a 70 yr old but since you opt to opt out of HOTA, the 70 year old will get it first.
Now if you have a choice and can only save one stranger, would you save a 70 yr old stranger or a 30 yr old stranger. Make the right choice.

Anonymous said...

Take the example of Kwa Geok Choo. She had a massive stroke in 2008 and almost total news blackout on her condition, for all we know, she could have been brain dead or almost brain dead since. Did the doctors take out her organs after 24 hrs?

Anonymous said...

the organ of such an elderly woman? keke

curious cat

Anonymous said...

I am also extremely disappointed by your post, influencing people to opt out of HOTA.

It's never a decision of just one doctor declaring a person brain dead. Therefore the chances of making mistakes is almost 0.

Brain dead is irreversible and even if there is a miracle.. The person would have suffered permanent brain damage.

And please don't call doctors/nurses/paramedics heartless. Sometimes, there's really nothing they can do to save the patient. There is a certain protocol to follow and decision are made not based on their feelings. Medical apparatus, test results all plays a part. And the chances of all going wrong is extremely low.

Letting go of your love ones is never a decision anyone wants to make. Do you think at that moment your family member is a state of mind to make such decision? By the time they can come out with a decision, everything might be too late. Even if the final outcome is donating your organs, it is useless.

I respect your decision to opt out of this program. It's personal. BUT don't influence others to do the same. (I am saying this because, you do have many hits everyday) If 30% of your readers opts out, the result is devastating. You will never know when you will need that someone's organ.

Sorry if I have offended you.

Anonymous said...

The real test for Yu-Kym and those like her who opt out of HOTA will be when they themselves or their love-ones are waiting critically for organs and those potential donors think exactly as shortsighted and emotionally irrational like Yu-Kym and the likes of her.

Yu-Kym is such a contradiction in this stance when I recollect her strong hard-headed views over other sensitive topics. And its amazing that she believes that miracles happen as often as striking 1st prize in a multi-million dollar lottery.

curious cat

avid blog reader said...


enuff said,
i support your views on hota.

Anonymous said...

This post makes me reconsider my decision on the issue of opting out of organ donation. I hope that there would not be a day where I would be faced with such a dilemma.

Anonymous said...

Don't bang on hoping for this or that.

Always bear in mind, once you make a decision to opt out be absolutely sure that if and when the day your love one critically needs an organ, your family are not found to be in the front of the queue for one.

That I say is honour and being true to your convictions and not a hypocrite.

There is surely nothing need to be said for you who had opted out, is there?

curious cat

Anonymous said...

I've started doing this project and found out this incident that happen in 2007. i do agree with you and i would like to opt out of HOTA. I'm not a particularly healthy person. been a sickly child and I'm still studying. i know doctors are EDUCATED. especially Singaporean doctor who tend to forget a simple word they learned long ago called compassion. I don't understand how many Singaporeans can just say stuff like "he was brain dead..." [this shows you don't read a lot cause doctors do make mistakes.] i mean so? if my parents or loved one was in that situation, i'll kick that doctor ass away. man, thats my family you're touching bitch not yours! you might say im too young to think about such thing in a mature manner but honestly i'm pretty sure you'll be doing the same thing, begging the doctors not to do it and give them some more time to come around. if that really happens and if you can say " sure take his/her organs out. (: he/she's brain dead. " you really need to check whether your heart is still there.

Anonymous said...

Hi Yu Kym...
Tks for ur post here & heartfelt feelings of we family R facing.

There Nothing to be selfish to Opt Out at all...
The doctors hd aim his healthy organs rather then to save him...!!!
The hospital is making huge profits with human organs...

For those who feel they R so great...
Ask them to volunteer to donate 1 of their Kidney now... As they still live with 1 rite.

Anonymous said...

Yu Kym,

Saw this blog post in a link from TRS. Excellent post. I totally agree with your views on HOTA. In the unfortunate event of a coma I really don'r wish to see my family and loved ones to be in a position where doctors are praying they die ASAP, for the sake of removing their organs.