Saturday, March 05, 2005
Dutch Muslims Happy to Take Organs But Not Give
4 March 2005
AMSTERDAM — Health Minister Hoogervorst wants to give priority on transplantation waiting lists to people who are registered as donors, but MPs slammed the proposal on claims it will introduce discrimination in healthcare.
The Liberal VVD minister defended his proposal by pointing out that Muslims often refuse to donate organs based on religious beliefs. This is despite the fact they are willing to receive an organ if they are ill. "That creates a bad feeling," he said.
"If you say: 'I refuse to donate an organ because of my religion, but I don't want to receive one either', than I will respect it. But I won't respect a one-sided attitude of receiving and not giving. I find that
problematic," Hoogervorst said.
After the parliamentary debate on organ donation, the minister said it is not just a few Muslims who refuse to give and whom are willing to receive an organ donation. It is instead a substantial group.
Hoogervorst said immigrants often have poorer health and will require a transplant more often than native Dutch. Due to the shortage of organ donors — especially kidneys — some 200 people die every year in the Netherlands, newspaper De Volkskrant reported.
The minister came to his conclusion in recent months during talks with medical specialists. At the request of Parliament, he will now draw up a detailed proposal.
Hoogervorst is considering a system in which registered donors receive extra points on organ transplant waiting lists, meaning they will get an organ sooner. The Cabinet has not yet determined its stance on the issue.
The Christian Democrat CDA and Labour PvdA led parliamentary opposition to the plan, but nearly all political parties expressed fears that Hoogervorst was introducing discrimination in healthcare. They are concerned that smokers and overweight people will also receive help later than other people.
But Hoogervorst rejected proposals to automatically register the entire population as potential donors, despite the fact that most of the opposition parties and government coalition partner Democrat D66 think that the system will yield more donors.
MPs will vote on automatic organ donation next week, but the proposal is not assured of a majority due to a difference in opinion between Labour PvdA and the Socialist SP party over the type of system to be introduced.