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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Govt mulls setting up cross-border organ donation and matching mechanism

Govt mulls setting up cross-border organ donation and matching mechanism

The health authorities are mulling setting up the standing organ transplant mutual assistance mechanism with the mainland after the successful experience of the first cross-boundary organ transplant case last year.
According to the Health Bureau and the Hospital Authority, the mechanism being considered is a second-tier mutual assistance allocation mechanism. It can be activated immediately once suitable patients cannot be identified for any organ donated in either of the two places, and matching was unsuccessful in the local allocation system.

Authorities said the mechanism would allow donated organs in Hong Kong and the mainland to be better utilised when no suitable recipients can be identified in the respective place, thus giving patients currently on the waiting list an extra chance to live a new life.

The SAR government is examining the proposed mechanism with mainland authorities to align the technical requirements, criteria and operational procedures, and to ensure that such organ donation is conducted under the principle of benefitting patients with the greatest need in a legal, fair, equitable and safe manner.

Hong Kong has adopted an "opt-in" system for cadaveric organ donation. The registration number of the Centralised Organ Donation Register (CODR) is more than 357,000 at present.

Moreover, the Department of Health recently observed some abnormalities in the figures relating to withdrawals filed via the website of CODR. From December 2022 to April, a total of 5,785 withdrawal applications were recorded, which is significantly higher than that recorded in the past.

However, it was eventually found that 2,905 applications were invalid ones from persons who have either never opted in for the CODR or made repeated withdrawal attempts. In February alone, invalid withdrawals were even as high as 74 percent.

The government strongly condemned the utterly irresponsible behaviour and said it could not be ruled out that a small number of people have intentionally made withdrawal attempts with the aim of disrupting the representativeness of the CODR and increasing the administrative burden on government personnel.

The Health Bureau also noticed that a small number of individuals distorted the virtue and altruistic value of devotion in organ donation on the Internet by promoting the idea that organ donors should scrutinise the identity of the recipients and even urging others to withdraw from the CODR.

The Bureau expresses regret towards such an act which completely goes against the spirit of selfless love in organ donation.

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