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LCQ14: Organ donation

     Following is a question by Dr the Hon Kwok Ka-ki and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, in the Legislative Council today (April 27):


     Currently, quite a number of patients suffering from organ failure are waiting for transplant of deceased organs in order to sustain life.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the respective numbers of patients waiting for transplant of various types of deceased organs, and the respective average time for which they had waited, as at April 2016;

(2) whether it knows the number of patients who passed away in each of the past five years while waiting for transplant of deceased organs;

(3) of the number of members of the public who newly signed the organ donation card in each of the past five years;

(4) of the channels through which the authorities promoted organ donation in the past five years and the relevant expenditure incurred; the difficulties encountered by the authorities in promoting organ donation; whether the authorities have conducted regular reviews on the effectiveness of the various publicity channels; and

(5) if it knows whether there were Hong Kong residents who sought medical treatment from local public hospitals in each of the past five years due to after-effects of the organ transplant operations they received outside Hong Kong; if there were, the number of such patients and the details?



(1) The Hospital Authority (HA) updates the statistics of organ donation on a half-yearly basis.  The number of patients waiting for transplant of various types of organs and the average waiting time in 2015 are set out in Annex 1.

(2) Whether the cause of a patient's death is related to the lack of an organ for transplant depends on the organ needed and the availability of alternative treatment options.  Given the complexity of the issue and controversy involved, there is no unanimous conclusion yet.  As far as organs like kidney, cornea, skin and bone tissue are concerned, patients suffering from renal failure can live on by receiving dialysis treatment, and the lack of cornea and skin and bone tissue for transplant does not directly cause a patient's death.  After detailed discussions of different organ transplant teams, the HA began to adopt a set of standard criteria in 2010 to calculate the number of patients on the organ transplant waiting list who died in the year.  Based on such criteria, the statistics of the number of patients who died while waiting for organ transplant in each of the past five years are shown in Annex 2.

(3) The Department of Health (DH) launched the Centralised Organ Donation Register (CODR) in November 2008 to encourage the public to register their wish to donate their organs after death.  Members of the public may choose to register in the CODR by mail/fax or through the Internet (  The number of people registered in the CODR in the past five years are set out in Annex 3.

     Members of the public may carry signed organ donation cards.  Since people who have signed the organ donation card do not need to report to the DH, we do not have the latest number of people who have signed the cards.

(4) Organ donation and transplant, and eventually whether patients can be saved, depend on a number of factors.  The HA has put in place a mechanism to handle and co-ordinate various clinical aspects involved in the process.  However, a key factor is the attitude of the general public towards organ donation.  The Government has been inculcating a culture of organ donation in the community, hoping that the public can accept the concept of donating organs after death to bring new lives to others.  Over the years, the DH and HA have been working with various professional community partners such as organ donation co-ordinators who play a supportive and co-ordinating role, with a view to creating a positive atmosphere for organ donation in the whole community.  

     A focus group study conducted by the DH in 2015 revealed that traditional beliefs and family factors, together with certain misunderstandings and worries among the general public, have led to their reservations about organ donation.  Hence the DH and its partners should enhance public understanding about organ donation to ease their concerns and increase their willingness to donate organs after death.

     The Government just established the Committee on Promotion of Organ Donation in mid-April to further promote organ donation.  The committee will co-ordinate and integrate the relevant work of different government departments and organisations to augment public education and publicity, so as to foster and fortify the culture of organ donation.  It is responsible for formulating strategies and directions for organ donation promotion, co-ordinating activities for promoting and facilitating organ donation, as well as formulating programmes and activities to encourage and educate the public on organ donation.  It will also invite non-governmental organisations, institutions, members of the community and the media to participate in various activities and programmes, with a view to enhancing public understanding of and reducing their resistance and hesitation to organ donation. It is hoped that through these efforts, Hong Kong people will be willing to donate organs after death to save other people's lives.

     The expenditure and manpower on the publicity of organ donation cannot be separately identified as they are absorbed by the overall provision for health promotion under the Food and Health Bureau and DH.

(5) No matter where the transplant was conducted, patients who have undergone organ transplant have to receive follow-up treatment after the operation, such as taking anti-rejection drugs on a continuous basis.  The HA will provide the necessary follow-up services and continuum of care for these patients.

     For kidney transplant, statistics on the number of patients who had kidney transplant outside Hong Kong and received follow-up care in public hospitals in each of the past five years are shown in Annex 4.

     Apart from kidney transplant, the HA does not have the annual statistics on the number of Hong Kong residents who receive follow-up care in public hospitals after undergoing organ transplant operations in places outside Hong Kong.  According to the information currently available to HA, the number of patients who have undergone liver, heart and lung transplant outside Hong Kong and are receiving follow-up care in public hospitals are 205, four and two respectively.

Ends/Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Issued at HKT 17:06


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