Hong Kong – The Human Organ Transplant Ordinance is due for amendment to allow for more flexibility in assessing a donor's eligibility, said the city's health chief on Thursday.
Secretary for Food & Health Ko Wing-man made the statement after the daughter of a critically woman was denied as a donar as the law requires a donor to be at least 18.
"The law has not given discretionary power to any clinical team or the Human Organ Transplant Board. It is entirely understandable in doing so because the law needs to protect the minors.
"But we also note that internationally there is no hard and fast rule to draw a line on the minimum age of donors, and even the judgement of a particular society on the minimum age of donation could be changing from time to time."
Ko added the legal amendment will give discretion to the board to assess donor eligibility based on their physical condition, as well as clinical and psychological suitability.The 43-year-old severely ill mother in the city was able to get a liver transplantation in the last minute when an unknown donor came forward on Thursday after passionate appeals by her daughter in the media.
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The patient, Tang Kwai-sze, is suffering from acute liver failure and was hospitalized at Queen Mary Hospital.
Tang’s daughter, Michelle, three months short of 18 years, was denied as a donor.
Tang’s case attracted concerns from the public and triggered calls for the government to grant an exemption of the age requirement for Michelle so that she could save her mother by donating her liver.
Much to the relief of the family members and their near and dear ones, Tang is undergoing the liver transplantation surgery at the hospital.
Tang was placed at the top of the waiting list for liver transplantation as doctors earlier said her condition was critical. With AB blood type, she is suitable to take had any donors come forward.
The Hospital Authority thanked the selfless donor and called on more people to support organ donation to help those in need.
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According to the Department of Health, Hong Kong saw a total of 73 liver donations from both deceased and live donor in 2016. But the 89 people are waiting in queue for liver donation while 2,047 people for kidney.
For patients waiting for liver donation, the average waiting time in 2015 was 43 months.
Hong Kong has a low organ donation rate with only 5.8 in a million people in 2015, much lower than 39.7 people in Spain.