Doctors prefer cadaveric organ donations

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 September, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 September, 1996, 12:00am

I refer to the letter by M.L. Wai (South China Morning Post, August 29), expressing concern over the ethical and legal issues arising from organ donation and transplantation.

It is precisely with these ethical and legal concerns in mind that the Human Organ Transplant Ordinance has been enacted to govern the practice.

The Human Organ Transplant Board was also formed recently to monitor the situation in Hong Kong.

Under the current ordinance, unless he is given the approval of the Human Organ Transplant Board, a person shall be guilty of an offence if he removes or transplants an organ removed from a living person into another person who is not genetically related or married to the person from whom the organ is removed. This is strictly observed by the Hospital Authority and no living, unrelated organ transplants have ever been performed in public hospitals.

Before every transplant involving living related individuals, the doctors will definitely explain fully to the living related donor the risk involved, amongst other things.

No transplant will be performed until donor and recipient are both satisfied with the information provided and have consented to the operation. Because of the potential risk involved, organ transplantation involving living related individuals is not preferred by either doctors or patients.

According to statistics, there is no evidence of a switch to live donors for transplant recently and the number remains more or less the same as it has done in the past few years.

In order to promote cadaveric organ donations, the authority has been holding an annual organ donation campaign for the past few years. I trust your readers will notice from the media that this year's campaign is now in full swing.

Regarding the working hours of doctors, it is realised that doctors in hospitals are required to work overtime; that is the nature of the profession. However, significant improvements have been made by the authority to address the problem in recent years. The authority will continue to look into ways to relieve the workload of doctors through work engineering to ensure the delivery of a quality health care service to patients and that the health of the carers is not affected.

Dr K.K. LAI for Chief Executive Hospital Authority