Following is the speech by the Secretary for Health and Welfare, Dr E K Yeoh, in moving the second reading of the Mental Health (Amendment) Bill 2000 at the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):
I move that the Mental Health (Amendment) Bill 2000 be read a second time.
The Amendment Bill seeks to clarify that a third party cannot give consent to an organ donation on behalf of a mentally disordered or handicapped person, who is incapable of understanding the general nature and effect of the organ transplant operation.
The proposed amendment is necessitated by the wording of the definition of "medical treatment" in Part IVC of the Mental Health Ordinance. This could be construed to include the removal of an organ from a mentally disordered or handicapped person for donation purposes. This has never been our policy intention.
The Bill, if enacted, will ensure that mentally handicapped and mentally disordered persons enjoy the same level of protection as is afforded others in our community under the Human Organ Transplant Ordinance. This requires that a prospective donor should fully understand the procedure and risks involved as well as his entitlement to withdraw consent at any time. In essence, we do not agree that any third party should have the power to consent to an organ donation on behalf of a mentally handicapped or disordered person. The Bill seeks to fully protect these persons since we do not accept that the removal of an organ for transplant purposes, with the associated significant risk and pain, could ever be regarded as treatment which is in the best interests of the donor.
Mentally handicapped and mentally disordered persons who are able to give consent to donate will not be prevented from doing so, as a result of this Bill. Nor will their ability to receive an organ, be affected.
Madam Chairperson, I beg to move.
END/Wednesday, January 26, 2000