Mon, Jan 01, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Organs can be donated sooner

SHORTAGE:Traditional guidelines require that the donor be brain-dead. Giving non-heart-beating organs could reduce the waiting period for organ transplants

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The Ministry of Health and Welfare has released new guidelines that allow organs to be donated as soon as five minutes after a deceased person’s heart has stopped.

To address the long-term shortage of organ donations and lessen the waiting period for an organ transplant, the ministry last week released the guidelines for medical facilities to refer to.

Before the new guidelines, organ donation required a donor to be pronounced brain-dead, but the ministry has been holding meetings with specialists since October to discuss the feasibility non-heart-beating organ donation.

The ministry’s new guidelines state that if end-stage patients, as defined by the Hospice Palliative Care Act (安寧緩和醫療條例), have decided to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment and donate their organs, then organ donation can be performed five minutes after their heart stops beating.

A five-minute observation period is required after the organ donor’s heartbeat has naturally stopped and medical intervention is not allowed during this period, the ministry said, adding that the transplant procedure can only begin after the attending physician makes a formal declaration of death.

The donated organs will be distributed according to the Human Organ Transplant Act (人體器官移植條例), it added.

The ministry said it has commissioned the Taiwan Organ Registry and Sharing Center to hold non-heart-beating organ donation workshops and to write a standard operation procedure guide for medical facilities carrying it out.

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