19 July 2019
Four organ donation recipients attend an event organized by the Hong Kong Transplant Sports Association to promote organ donation. Photo: HKEJ
Four organ donation recipients attend an event organized by the Hong Kong Transplant Sports Association to promote organ donation. Photo: HKEJ

Govt urged to strengthen efforts at promoting organ donation

While many people in Hong Kong are willing to donate their organs to help keep patients in need alive, a survey found that most of them have never registered as donors, suggesting the government needs to provide more assistance so they could turn their thoughts into action.

Data from the Department of Health showed that more than 2,000 people in the city were waiting for donated organs at the end of 2017, including 48 for hearts, 2,153 for kidneys and 87 for livers.

The Hong Kong Transplant Sports Association (HKTSA) interviewed 293 family members and friends of organ recipients last month about their willingness to be organ donors after passing away.

The results, which were unveiled on Sunday, showed 79 percent of them were willing to donate, with only 21 percent saying they were not inclined to donate or were undecided, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

However, of those who said they were willing to donate, only 35 percent had registered online.

As for the rest, 44 percent said they did not know how to register online and 33 percent said they were too busy to do so.

Dr. Chau Ka-foon, honorary president of the HKTSA, said it could be concluded from the results that the authorities should do more to promote organ donation.

Chau said it was hard to imagine there are still so many people who do not know how to use the internet based on the survey.

Nonetheless, he urged the government to approach such people more aggressively and assist them in registering as organ donors. He suggested promotional activities at community centers and homes for the aged.

Attending an event held by the HKTSA on Sunday, Undersecretary for Food and Health Chui Tak-yi said the government has been working with various groups in this regard, adding that people who are willing to be organ donors can register not only through the internet but also through fax or mail.

Chui also revealed the government is seeking to revise the Human Organ Transplant Ordinance to allow cross-donation so that patients in need of organ transplantation can accept live organs not only from their spouses or other family members but also from members of other families as well.

Currently, Hong Kong adopts the voluntary and pro bono system of organ donation.

It is understood that the ethics committee of the Medical Council has expressed support for the revision of the law and the Food and Health Bureau is working on a draft of clauses related to cross-donation.

The proposal is expected to be submitted to the Legislative Council in the second half of the year.

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