Queen Mary Hospital officials yesterday defended the institution against claims that it turned down a family's offer of organ donations after a man died at the hospital this month.
The deceased's younger sister, who identified herself only as Miss Tang, told a radio programme yesterday that her family agreed to donate all her brother's organs just after he was certified dead two weeks ago.
But their offer was turned down.
'They told me it was too late, and no preparation had been done,' Miss Tang said.
Her brother, who had had a massive brain haemorrhage, was taken to Queen Mary Hospital on January 5 after he passed out at home.
He was declared dead four days later.
His sister said no hospital staff approached the family after they made the offer of organ donations.
The hospital later issued a statement that doctors had assessed Tang's main organs, including his heart, kidney and liver, and had deemed that they were unsuitable for donation.
Also, Tang had had a fever and doctors suspected his other tissues, such as his corneas, would also be infected, so they decided against using them as transplants.
This was why staff did not approach family members about organ donation or pass the case to the transplant co-ordinator for follow-up action, the hospital said.
The hospital apologised for not explaining the situation clearly to the family.
Hong Kong's public hospitals have long used the 'opt-in' system under which prospective donors sign an organ-donation card or registry form to indicate their consent.
But the government plans to set up a centralised registry system on the internet to help health authorities identify potential organ donors.
The registry is to be set up within months.
Transplant co-ordinators will be alerted when a patient is brain-dead. They will then check the registry to see whether the patient has signed up as a donor.
The co-ordinator will also discuss the donation with the deceased person's family members.