Government can help citizens realise the importance of organ donor register

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 May, 2012, 12:00am


Who says organ donor Carman Ho is dead? She is living through the bodies of six people who benefited from her organs harvested for transplants.

I have to praise the co-ordination of the hospitals and her family, who took prompt action to fulfil her wishes after her untimely death nine days after a traffic accident.

There is a worldwide shortage of organ donors, which has led to an illicit trade. Kidneys are sold for more than US$50,000 for financial gain in parts of Central America and South Asia, for example, and poor families might get only US$5,000. So many people still want to be cremated with their bodies intact instead of donating their organs to people who need them.

I can understand poorly educated people refusing to register as donors, but why would some well-educated and prominent individuals and senior civil servants be so reluctant to sign on?

You read about philanthropists making generous cash donations, but strangely, many are reluctant to allow their organs to be harvested. I fail to understand the logic behind such strange double standards.

On the mainland, executed prisoners have their organs removed for transplants.

In all jurisdictions, citizens should be put on donor registers unless they choose to opt out. Cultural and religious traditions and beliefs must be respected but there must be common sense.

We ought to abide by fundamental principles of humanity to help people in need and relieve their misery.

It is all very well to preach, but actions speak louder than words. The government, along with the relevant non-governmental organisations, celebrities, top ministers, the wealthy in society and senior clergy of all faiths, have a crucial role to play in persuading people to sign up to the Centralised Organ Donation Register. They can help allay the concerns people may have about knowing their organs will be harvested after they die. At the moment we take only a half-hearted approach to this issue.

The government should provide the necessary funds to advertise the register and recruit volunteers who can get the message across. The Red Cross could play an important role here. If more is done, then more people in need of organ transplants will live and more individuals will be able to enjoy a better quality of life.

A. L. Nanik, Tsim Sha Tsui