HONG KONG doctors are pressing Chinese health officials to take closer control of cross-border kidney transplants, Legislative Councillor Dr Leong Che-hung said yesterday. Dr Leong said the Hong Kong Medical Association had discussed the issue with mainland authorities and hospitals. The association, of which he is a council member, was against organ trading despite the severe shortage of kidneys in Hong Kong for transplant. About 1,700 kidney patients survive on dialysis machines. Many have been waiting for a transplant for years. An increasing number of patients have been paying around $150,000 to have their operations on the mainland where some of the kidneys are believed to come from executed prisoners without their permission. About 80 transplants were carried out in China in 1993 with follow-up treatment in government hospitals, compared with 11 in 1988. Only about 55 transplants are done locally each year. Dr Leong said consent should be obtained from organ donors. 'Trading in human organs should not be allowed in the first place, not to mention doing it against the owner's wishes,' he said. Dr Leong was speaking after the launch of Kidney Disease Awareness Weeks organised by the Hong Kong Kidney Foundation, which Dr Leong chairs. Dr Leong said the public would be asked to sign up for kidney donation. He said the association had received about 10,000 signed forms from people who confirmed their wish to donate their organs. The records would be used as proof for their families if necessary. Dr Leong said the Government should make donation compulsory unless people opted out.