SINGAPORE - Two Indonesian men have pleaded guilty to charges related to illegal organ trading in the first case of its kind in Singapore, the health ministry and media reports said.
The men admitted in court to lying about being related to patients to whom they said they were donating kidneys, and about not being paid for their organs, the ministry said in a statement late Friday.
They face jail terms of up to 12 months or fines of up to 10,000 Singapore dollars (7,300 US) or both when they are sentenced next week, it said.
Organ trading is banned in Singapore and in many other countries to prevent the exploitation of "poor and socially disadvantaged donors who are unable to make informed choices and suffer potential medical risks," the ministry said.
In Singapore about 600 people are on a kidney waiting list with an average wait of nine years, the Straits Times said Saturday.
One of the donors, identified only as Toni, 27, donated a kidney to an Indonesian patient in March, it said.
Toni had told the ethics committee at the Singapore hospital where the transplant was conducted that he was the patient's adopted son, and was paid around 186 million rupiah (20,200 US), the report said.
The other donor, Sulaiman Damanik, 26, had agreed to sell his kidney to Singaporean retail magnate Tang Wee Sung for about 150 million rupiah, the report said. He had also posed as a relative.
Tang's operation did not go ahead after police began investigating organ trading allegations, it said.
"There is always more demand than supply, so I can understand why some patients become desperate because it is about life and death," the Straits Times quoted Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan as saying.
"But no matter how desperate the situation is, we must never break the law."
The World Health Organisation maintains the human body and its parts cannot be traded commercially.