Thu, Oct 13, 2011 - Page 2 News List

DOH should take charge of organ procurement: Ko

UNIFIED SYSTEM:Ko Wen-che said the Department of Health should take back responsibility for procuring organs because hospitals have become driven by greed

Staff Writer, with CNA

The Department of Health (DOH) should take charge of merging the organ procurement systems of different hospitals into a single comprehensive department, the director of National Taiwan University Hospital’s intensive care unit said yesterday.

Ko Wen-che (柯文哲) made the remarks during a report to the legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee on an incident on Aug. 24, when the organs of an HIV-positive donor were transplanted into five patients. Hospital staff said they misheard the HIV status information of the donor.

Ko, who was held responsible for the incident, resigned as head of the university’s transplant team on Aug. 31 and was later suspended from practicing medicine.

The health department should take back responsibility for organ procurement from hospitals and unify the system by setting up three offices in northern, central and southern Taiwan by next year, Ko said.

These offices would only need to hire a total of 10 coordinators, he added.

He said the fragmented system was caused by a previous decision to outsource organ acquisition services to the Taiwan Organ Registry and Sharing Center, which then subcontracted the job to other hospitals.

Ko said the initial design was to prioritize the allocation of organs to hospitals sharing the same Organ Procurement Organization system, but greed became the driving force behind hospital procurement policies.

Many of the hospitals in the system paid little attention when their own hospitals did not have organ transplant patients and sometimes even failed to administer antibiotics to their organ donors, Ko said.

There are 60 hospitals with organ transplant capability in the country, but only 10 hospitals accountable for organ collection, Ko said.

Instead of actively acquiring organs, these transplant hospitals believe they can obtain organs simply by cultivating influential leaders in organ procurement hospitals, he said.

The inability of the center to resolve the issue of conjoining and merging the different hospitals’ organ procurement systems resulted in the latest transplant mix-up, he said.

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