One in two Hongkongers don't know how to become organ donors, poll reveals

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 May, 2014, 5:07am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 May, 2014, 5:04pm

One in two Hongkongers don't know how to go about donating their organs, a poll on cornea donation has found.

And doctors say anyone who wants to donate their organs should be able to register to do so when they turn 18 and apply for an identity card.

The Chinese University poll released yesterday found that Hongkongers were more accepting of organ donation, with almost two-thirds of the 1,002 respondents saying they were willing to donate their corneas when they died.

But only 21 per cent of them had registered to do so; 54 per cent said they did not know how.

Doctors from the Ophthalmological Society and College of Ophthalmologists, which commissioned the survey, called for more efforts to educate the public on how to register as donors, amid a shortage.

"In some countries, people are given the organ donation registration form when they get their driver's licence … This can be done in Hong Kong, too, when people turn 18 and get their identity cards," Dr Chow Pak-chin, the college's president, said.

The registration information could be saved in the ID card chip, he said. That idea was welcomed by 71 per cent of respondents to the survey, which was conducted in March.

Food and Health Undersecretary Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee agreed that the registration system could be improved and said Chow's suggestion required interdepartmental discussion.

Last year, 248 corneas were donated, but 500 patients were still waiting for a transplant at the end of the year. More than 140,000 people are registered with the government's Centralised Organ Donation Register.

Some 33 per cent of respondents said they did not know cornea diseases could be cured by corneal transplant. And 84 per cent did not know that one cornea could be divided for use in several patients. People aged over 18 can register as donors with the Health Department via its website or by filling in a form.