Officials support demands for ID cards to carry life-saving data
Government health authorities yesterday backed calls to include information specifying whether people were organ donors on new electronic ID cards to be introduced next year.
Doctors, lawmakers and patient groups this week called for the measure to be adopted after the South China Morning Post highlighted a shortage of donor organs.
A spokeswoman for the Health, Welfare and Food Bureau said it had long supported the concept of including health information, including organ donor status, on the new smart ID cards.
But the Immigration Department, which controls the introduction of the cards, said there was no plan to include medical information on them.
'However, we are open to the introduction of new value-added applications and will examine possible uses if there is strong community support for them,' a spokeswoman said.
The call for the card-based donor system followed a decision last week to scrap a budget-driven quota on liver transplants imposed on some surgeons.
Despite the scrapping of the quota, Hong Kong's relatively low rate of organ donations means patients who could be saved suffer - and sometimes die - unnecessarily while waiting for transplants.
According to statistics, 40 of the 100 patients currently waiting for a liver transplant will die before an organ becomes available.
Donation rates could be lifted and lives saved by introducing a more comprehensive organ donor recruitment system - but this would have financial implications for other health-care priorities.
The Post revealed last week that a donor liver was wasted in June when Prince of Wales Hospital chief executive Professor Allan Chang Mang-zing refused to allow surgeons to use the organ because it would have exceeded a quota of one transplant a month.
Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food Yeoh Eng-kiong has since overruled the quota.