Health authorities are preparing to revise the regulations covering organ donation and distribution to encourage more people to volunteer as organ donors, according to Shih Chung-liang (石崇良), director-general of the Department of Health’s Bureau of Medical Affairs.
The organ distribution regulations will be amended to put volunteer donors on the priority list for organs if the need arises, Shih said.
For example, people who have donated liver tissue or a kidney will be given extra points that would put them on the priority list should they ever need an organ transplant, he said.
Family members of people whose organs were harvested upon death and those who sign an organ donation agreement would also be included on the priority list, he said.
The bureau will discuss the plan to change the distribution principles this month and will propose amendments by the end of next month, he said.
He said he hoped the revisions would help increase the number of organ donations.
Data from the Taiwan Organ Registry and Sharing Center shows there are 7,336 people in Taiwan waiting for organ donations — 5,542 need kidney transplants, 1,044 require new livers, 574 are waiting for corneas and 131 need heart transplants.
However, there have been only 107 organ donors this year, none of them live, the center said. The number of donated organs was 407, it said.
In an effort to expand the sources of donated organs, the health department is also studying the possibility of allowing organ donations from terminally ill patients at the point when their heartbeat stops, Shih said.
Under existing guidelines, organs can only be harvested from donors who are pronounced brain dead.
The department is also considering amending the regulations to allow live organ donations to non-relatives, Shih said.
“The society has developed to the point where we can begin discussions on the issue,” he said.
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