Story of life-saving transplant inspires fourfold increase in organ donation registrations in Hong Kong
The number organ donor registrations received by the Department of Health increased from 532 to 2,598
The selfless act of a 26-year-old clerk who sacrificed two-thirds of her liver to save the life of a stranger has moved many Hongkongers to support the organ donation cause, a top transplant expert said.
In the days following Momo Cheng Hoi-yan’s donation – which would save the life of Tang Kwai-sze, 43 – the number organ donor registrations received by the Department of Health increased from 532 to 2,598.
Meanwhile, another 2,277 registered via the department’s online registry, pushing the total up to 250,036 as of April 21.
“There were two organ donations being made on Thursday and another one today, meaning ten or so lives have been saved,” said Queen Mary Hospital’s liver transplant centre director, Professor Lo Chung-mau.
“[Momo Cheng] did not just help Michelle and extend her mother’s life, she inspired many others to support.”
Hong Kong has one of the lowest organ donation rates in the world with only 5.8 donors per one million people – a fraction of countries such as Spain, which have a rate of 39.7 donors per million people.
Despite a spike in the number of registered donors, the people who have signed up only accounting for 3.4 per cent of the population.
Cheng donated two-thirds of her liver to Tang on April 13 after the dying mother’s 17-year-old daughter, Michelle, was not allowed to donate her own liver because she was three months shy of the legal age of 18.
Tang, however, had to undergo a second transplant after her body rejected the first donation from Cheng. The Hong Kong mother is now conscious and in a stable condition.
Doctors said Cheng’s donation had saved the patient’s life by giving her more time to find the right donor.
Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man has promised to conduct a comprehensive study on whether a controversial presumed-consent scheme should be introduced in the city. It would automatically make all usable organs from deceased patients available unless the person expressed a wish not to be a donor.