Patients given new kidneys for Christmas

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 January, 2007, 12:00am

Organ donations from dead help six long-term sufferers

Six patients who had renal diseases for up to 16 years got the best Christmas gift of all - kidney transplants - thanks to donations from three people who died.

The operations were carried out between December 21 and 29 at Prince of Wales and Kwong Wah hospitals.

'I have been waiting for this day for 16 years,' said one of the recipients, who gave her name only as Ms Wong, who suffered kidney failure. The 55-year-old was one of five patients who underwent transplants at Prince of Wales Hospital.

'When I first learned about my disease I was shocked and lost all hope. I had to have peritoneal dialysis every day, which was very painful. I thought about committing suicide once but gave up the idea [because of] my children.

'But this year is a brand new life for me because of the transplant. I am full of hope now. I am so thankful to the donor and the donor's family. They gave me the best Christmas and New Year's gift I could ever have.'

Another kidney recipient, Angela, hoped more people would donate their organs after death. 'One kidney not only can save a patient but also his whole family. It is a blessing for a person being able to help other people after death.' Chief of nephrology at Prince of Wales Hospital, Philip Li Kam-tao, said it was encouraging that several transplants could be carried out in such a short period.

The Organ Transplant Registry shows 53 patients underwent kidney transplants in Hong Kong last year from donors who had died. More than 1,400 patients are on the waiting list.

On average, it takes 51/2 years for a kidney patient to have a transplant, with the longest waiting time being 23 years. The number of patients needing peritoneal dialysis has doubled in the past decade because diabetes cases are increasing in Hong Kong, accounting for 40 per cent of the new renal disease cases.

The transplant co-ordinator at Prince of Wales Hospital, Tong Yuen-fan, said the deceased had not signed up to donate their organs, but their families agreed to do so because their relatives had been eager to help others.

The International Registry of Organ Donations and Transplants for 2005 shows that only 4.2 per million people in Hong Kong donated their organs after death, far fewer than Australia with 10 per million, and the US with 21.4 per million.

The family of a 26-year-old man who died last Friday after falling down an escalator donated four of his organs, while the mother of a 23-year-old man who died in a traffic accident donated all his organs.