June 28, 2008 / 5:23 AM / 10 years ago

Singapore charges two for organ trading

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The Singapore government has charged two Indonesians for putting their kidneys up for sale in the city-state, in what local media say is the first prosecution against organ trade in the country.

The health ministry said in a statement two Indonesian men have been arrested and charged for organ trading and lying to a hospital ethics committee. Both men have pleaded guilty and are due to be sentenced this month.

One of the potential recipients was Tang Wee Sung, the head of CK Tang, a well-known Singapore retailer.

Singapore bans trading of organs and blood, and those found guilty may be fined up to S$10,000 ($7,342) or jailed up to a year.

“Organ trading often involves the exploitation of the poor and socially disadvantaged donors who are unable to make an informed choice and suffer potential medical risks,” the ministry said.

The Straits Times said on Saturday one of the Indonesians had agreed to sell his kidney to Tang Wee Sung, the executive chairman of CK Tang, for 150 million rupiah ($16,290), but the deal was scuppered when the health ministry intervened.

The two Indonesian men said they were related to the buyers and denied having received money for giving up their organs, the paper said.

One of the men, who succeeded in selling his organ to an Indonesian woman for 186 million rupiah, convinced an ethics panel his buyer was his adopted mother and the transplant operation took place in a Singapore hospital in March.

In the case of Tang, whose upmarket Tangs shopping mall is a landmark along Singapore’s Orchard shopping belt, the health ministry sensed something was amiss after blood samples from multiple sources were sent from abroad to Singapore to be matched against Tang’s sample, the Straits Times said.

Tang has not been charged, the paper said.

According to the World Health Organization, organ traffickers can buy organs for as little as $1,000 and sell them to wealthy clients for as much as $200,000.

Reporting by Koh Gui Qing; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani

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