Thu, Oct 04, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Ministry to demand transplant information

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung answers lawmakers’ questions at a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee yesterday.

Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times

Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) yesterday said the ministry would require doctors and hospitals to register all overseas organ transplants before the end of the year.

Political pundit Wu Hsiang-hui (吳祥輝) last month cited passages from a 2014 book titled The Slaughter: Mass Killings, Organ Harvesting, and China’s Secret Solution to its Dissident Problem and accused Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) of being involved, reigniting the controversy that surrounded the 2014 Taipei mayoral election.

Ethan Gutmann, the author of the book, told a news conference in Taipei on Tuesday that Ko was a “middleman” for Taiwanese patients wanting an organ transplant in China.

Ko yesterday rejected the accusation and asked for an apology.

At a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee yesterday, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟) said that, according to Taiwan Organ Registry and Sharing Center data, 3,128 people between April 2005 and August this year had organ transplants overseas.

While the law requires information about the transplanted organ, the nation and hospital where the operation was performed, and the physician who performed the transplant to be entered into Taiwan’s organ transplant registry system, only 108 cases (5.61 percent) had registered the required information, he said.

Moreover, there were 3,493 visits to overseas hospitals between October 2006 and August this year, 3,308 (94.7 percent) of which were to China and 185 to other countries, Liao said.

While China’s system might lack transparency, the statistics showed that the registration system for overseas transplants seemed to be failing, as none of the hospitals that provide postoperative or follow-up care to these patients have been punished for failing to register the required information, Chao said.

“We will ask the hospitals to complete the information for the organ transplant registration,” Chen said, adding that the ministry previously did not require the hospitals to provide the missing data for overseas organ transplants, but would require them to submit the data, hopefully by the end of the year.

For the cases where the data remain incomplete, the ministry would also consider putting on hold payments for National Health Insurance-funded drugs that organ transplant recipients need, he said.

“Organ transplant is a serious issue and accusations against any individual should be made with evidence to back them up,” Chen said, when asked about Gutmann’s accusation against Ko.

Unfounded accusations can hurt any industry, not just the medical sector, he added.

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