Fri, Jan 17, 2014 - Page 4 News List

Kidney transplant changes could bring benefits to patients

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporters

People waiting for kidney transplant could benefit from a raft of changes to the Human Organ Transplantation Act (人體器官移植條例) approved yesterday by the Cabinet.

Under the current act, Taiwan allows kidney donations either from a patient’s spouse, or relatives up to five degrees removed. As part of the changes, this restriction would be lifted to allow donations from unrelated people and thereby increase the chances of finding a proper match, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said.

The ministry has also proposed for the act to be tightened, requiring the details of overseas organ transplants to be provided to the ministry and making the brokering of organs, or any profiting from organ donation, illegal.

The amended draft follows the lead of the US and the Netherlands, the ministry said.

If the amendment passes the legislature, it could increase the number of kidney transplants performed every year by 10 percent, Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Lin Tzou-yien (林奏延) said.

“Currently in Taiwan, 6,303 people are waiting for lifesaving organ transplants, but the average number of operations carried out every year is only 300,” he said.

The amendments also include the removal of the regulation requiring ministry approval for kidney transplants, aimed at speeding up time to surgery, Lin said.

In November last year, Cabinet members were divided over an article regarding organs harvested from convicted prisoners, where it was suggested that organ harvesting from dead inmates should only be carried only out if they had given their prior consent and of their own free will.

Due to a lack of consensus about how free and informed decisionmaking for prisoners on death row could be ensured, the article was removed from the changes passed by Cabinet.

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