( dpa )- Muslims will be included in Singapore's law on human organ donation under a change taking effect on August 1 meant to expand the donor pool.
Under the Human Organ Transplant Act, a person between the ages of 21 and 60 is presumed to have agreed to donate his kidneys, heart, liver and corneas when he dies unless he has opted out in writing.
Muslims were exempt from the law when it took effect in 1987. They had to "opt in" to donate their organs, and only a few thousand have.
As a result, most of the Muslims who needed organ transplants had to wait longer because they were given lower priority for not participating.
An education drive is under way to explain the change to Singapore's 300,000 adult Muslims.
Health Minister Khaw Boon Won told Parliament Monday that the change would mean that nearly 30 more patients a year will be able to receive organ transplants.
Including Muslims in the law "is a major milestone," Khaw said.
He acknowledged that some Muslims still have doubts about the transplant process. Booklets explaining Islam's position will be distributed.
An Islamic Religious Council of Singapore committee issued an edict in July that Muslims could be included under the law and donate their organs.