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Thursday, May 12, 2016, 18:22

Huge pool of potential organ donors untapped

By Honey Tsang

HONG KONG - Young adults and the elderly have the lowest organ donation registration rates in Hong Kong, a survey released on May 12 by a leading network of young citizens reveals.

Junior Chamber International Victoria (JCI Victoria) surveyed 583 Hong Kong people about public attitudes to and recognition of organ donation.

The researchers found that around 95 percent of respondents are willing to donate their organs after death to patients afflicted with organ failure. However, over 60 percent of them have not yet registered on the Centralised Organ Donation Register (CODR), suggesting a great loss of prospective organ donors.

Of all respondents, young adults aged 18-25 have the lowest organ donation registration rate, accounting for 16 percent. This is followed by the oldest group – those aged 46 or above – at around 30 percent.

"The organ donation rate in Hong Kong is remarkably low compared with Western countries and economies," Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man said at the JCI Victoria press conference.

By the end of June 2015, there were over 2,400 residents waiting for organ transplantation. However, on average there are only 50 successful cases each year.

Half of the respondents said they did not know the consent of the bereaved family is necessary to acknowledge the deceased's wish to pass their organs to other people.

JCI Victoria is urging the Hong Kong government to intensify its promotion of the issue in order to raise public awareness and encourage more people to register for organ donation.

Ko said the government will launch a website that teaches people how to register. He added that the government should also work on changing the fixed mindset of traditional culture.

Last month, the newly established Committee on Promotion of Organ Donation held its first meeting to discuss strategies and directions for the promotion of organ donation in the city.

According to the Department of Health, more than 20,000 new names are registered on the CODR annually.

"I hope that there will be a marked jump in the number of new organ donors within a short period of time in the future," Ko added.

In 2008, the Department of Health has set up the Centralised Organ Donation Register to provide a convenient way for Hong Kong citizens to register as organ donors.

Willa Wu contributed to the reporting

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