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Hong Kong health care and hospitals

Hong Kong group calls for simpler organ donor registration procedures

Hong Kong Transplant Sports Association wants people to be asked if they would like to become donors when applying for ID cards or driving licences

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 October, 2017, 5:14pm
UPDATED : Monday, 02 October, 2017, 10:39pm

Hongkongers should be asked whether they would like to register to become organ donors when applying for identity cards or diving licences in a move to boost the city’s low donation rate, according to an advocacy group.

Dr Chau Ka-foon, honorary president of Hong Kong Transplant Sports Association, said current procedures for willing donors were too complicated and urged the government to remove the barriers.

“Many willing donors end up not being able to make donations due to a lot of reasons, such as the objections of their family,” said Chau on Monday.

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“The procedures are rather complicated.

“There should be easier ways to ask people to register, for example, [during] the application for Hong Kong identity cards or driving licences.”

Currently, some 270,000 people have registered online in the Department of Health’s centralised organ donation register, but the ratio only accounts for about 3 per cent of the city’s population. The number has gone up from around 220,000 last year.

Since April, a 17-year-old trying to donate her liver to save her dying mother have sparked more people to register to become a donor.

Still, the organ donation rate in Hong Kong is among the lowest in the world, with only 5.8 in every million people donating in 2015, compared with 39.7 in Spain.

As of last year, about 3,000 patients were waiting for vital organ donations to save their lives, according to data from the Hospital Authority.

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The authority’s director of cluster services Dr Cheung Wai-lun said the number on the register was “insufficient”, and he hoped to further enhance the awareness of organ donation.

Chau said the procedures to register remained less accessible to the elderly people. Many who registered via the online register are youngsters, and there are relatively few of them compared with the elderly.

The remarks was made during the Fit for life Billion Steps Challenge launch ceremony in support of organ transplant recipients at Queen Elizabeth Hospital on Monday.

Three recipients shared how their lives have been saved by the generous act of donation and expressed their gratitude towards the family members of deceased donors.

The Food and Health Bureau is consulting the public about an opt-out scheme on organ donation to increase the transplant rate.

A spokeswoman for the Bureau said they were waiting for results of a Census and Statistics Department’s household survey, which asked the public about organ donations including an opt-out scheme. Results will be available early next year. She said the public would be consulted before any big changes were made.