Thousands waiting on organ donors

Local | Michael Shum 21 Oct 2019

Less than one-third of Hong Kong citizens will donate their organs after their death, leaving more than 3,000 patients waiting for life-saving donations, according to results from a recent poll.

The Chinese University of Hong Kong conducted the poll, estimating that nearly two million people are willing to donate their organs, but with little over 300,000 of them registered as donors.

The majority of interviewees cited insufficient motivation, saying they were either too busy or too lazy, the poll noted.

Even if they wished to register to donate, nearly half of them did not tell their families - despite the families needing to be consulted before organs can be donated.

Jeremy Teoh Yuen-chun, assistant professor at the Department of Surgery of CUHK, found the results of the survey worrying but hopes that more promotion of organ donation could improve the situation.

The survey found that there were misperceptions about organ donation, with over 60 percent of interviewees thought only people that are completely healthy are allowed to donate, and 30 percent were not aware that there is an organ donation registry.

Organ donation figures have been far lower than other developed countries, with only 6.7 people donating their organs in every one million of the population, compared to 33.32 in the USA, and 8.66 in South Korea.

At present, there are nearly 3,000 patients in Hong Kong who require organ donations. Since 2010, lung donation cases were in single digit in most years, and the number of successful donations in the first half of this year was only two donations.

CUHK's research also found that nearly 90 percent of people refused to donate their organs after their death due to personal or religious beliefs, while 30 percent hoped to keep their body intact after death, and 20 percent refused to donate due to objections from their family.

Chui Tak-yi, the undersecretary for Food and Health, said, "We hope that citizens of different ages and different backgrounds can discuss the advantages of organ donation in a more open attitude. We will keep explaining to citizens, and clarify misunderstandings towards organ donation, and hope that citizens could give organ donation more support, and save more lives."

Ka Ming, 57, was suffering from a lung disease 20 years ago, and organ transplant was the only cure. He said he found it so miserable while waiting for a lung transplant he considered suicide. After receiving an organ donation, he said he was grateful to the donor, who allowed him to spend more with his daughter again.

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