Mon, Jul 14, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Plan could aid organ donations

GIVE ONE, GET ONE?Relatives of organ donors would get priority when they find themselves on waiting lists, in a rule proposed by the Ministry of Health and Welfare

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

In an effort to boost organ donations, the Ministry of Health and Welfare has drawn up a draft regulation that grants priority on organ waiting lists to patients whose spouses or relatives within three degrees of kinship were an organ or tissue donor.

Under the draft, titled “The Regulation Governing the Transplantation and Allocation of Human Organs” (人體器官移植分配及管理辦法), patients waiting for an organ transplant would be moved to the top of the waiting list if any of their relatives within three degrees of kinship or their spouses have donated organs or tissues, and if other registered candidates on the list are less ill.

It means that if two equally ill patients are waiting for a particular organ, the one who fits the above profile gets priority.

The Civil Code stipulates that a person’s first-degree relative is a parent or child; second-degree is a grandparent, grandchild or sibling; and third-degree relatives are great-grandparents, uncles, aunts, nephews, great-grandchildren and nieces.

The current regulation allows only the organs of a brain-dead person to be donated to his or her fifth-degree relatives by blood or marriage.

If none of these require an organ transplant upon the person’s death, the organs are then given to other patients on the waiting list. The donor’s relatives will not be given priority should they need a transplant in the future.

Taiwan Organ Registry and Sharing Center chairman Lee Po-chang (李伯璋) praised the draft regulation, saying that it could help create a cycle that prompted more people to be willing to donate the organs of their deceased loved ones.

“At the moment, there are 8,456 Taiwanese waiting for organ transplants, 6,250 waiting for a kidney, 1,253 for a liver and 744 for a cornea... However, there are an average of only 200 donors per year in the nation, particularly due to society’s relatively conservative perspective on organ donations after death,” Lee said.

Lee said the nation’s limited supply of organs was a primary reason that just one-tenth of 70,000 dialysis-dependent people are registered on the nation’s kidney transplant waiting list.

“Hopefully, the new regulation would create the notion of ‘helping yourself by donating a loved one’s organs to others in need,’” Lee said.

Department of Medical Affairs Director Lee Wui-chiang (李偉強) said the draft regulation was expected to take effect at the end of this month, should no opposition be raised during its consultation period.

“The new regulation would be retroactive and patients with documents detailing their relatives’ donation history — regardless of when the donations occured — would get priority,” Lee Wui-chiang said.

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