Secretary for Health urges support for organ donation as longest wait for kidney transplant reaches 29 years

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Professor Lo Chung-mau

7th June 2023 – (Hong Kong) The Department of Health has set up registration booths on the ground floor of the Legislative Council Complex to promote organ donation. Secretary for Health Lo Chung-mau delivered a speech during Wednesday’s commencement ceremony, stating that patients waiting for suitable organs are like passengers on the Titanic, hanging on the edge between life and death.

Lo expressed that it is heartbreaking to see certain people attempting to disrupt the centralised registry, and he hoped that citizens can spread their love as everyone is on the same boat. He noted that although the number of registered donors has increased from 45,000 in 2009 to over 350,000, it only accounts for about 5 percent of the city’s population.

According to a 2021 survey, over 1.3 million people in Hong Kong are willing to donate their organs after passing away. However, there is still a long way to go from the figures logged in the registry. Many people have yet to turn their beliefs into actions, Lo said, as he appealed to Hongkongers to throw their support.

Legislative Council President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen expressed that organ donation is a life-saving act that must be supported. He added that the cross-boundary organ transplant mutual assistance mechanism between the SAR and the mainland could help more local patients and is worth citizens’ support.

Leung also emphasised that there is no age restriction in organ donation, stating that “all our lawmakers are fit to donate organs, even the oldest ones among us.”

Lo Chung-mau expressed that there are currently over 2,600 people in Hong Kong waiting for organ transplants, with the most significant number waiting for kidney transplants. On average, they wait for five years, with the longest waiting time being 29 years. Patients waiting for heart, lung, and liver transplants have an average waiting time of two to three years. Unfortunately, many patients die during the waiting period.

The Department of Health has been working tirelessly to promote organ donation and raise awareness among Hong Kong citizens. Since 2009, the number of registered donors has increased significantly. However, there is still much work to be done to close the gap between the number of registered donors and the number of people willing to donate their organs after death.

Lo expressed that by registering to donate their organs, citizens can make a significant difference in the lives of those waiting for transplants. The Department of Health will continue its efforts to educate and promote organ donation in the hopes of saving more lives.