Replies to LegCo questions

LCQ8: Organ donation scheme

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     Following is a question by the Hon Bernard Chan and a written reply by the Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food, Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong, in the Legislative Council today (June 23):




     Regarding the organ donation scheme, will the Government inform this Council:


(a)  whether it has assessed the feasibility of the proposal to invite, at the time the photos/fingerprints of applicants for new/replacement identify (ID) cards are taken by the staff of the Immigration, these applicants to voluntarily indicate their consent to donate their organs; if it has, of the assessment results;


(b)  whether the details of the existing smart ID card holders' participation in the scheme can be incorporated into their ID cards;


(c)  whether there will be technical or administrative problems in implementing the above proposal and incorporating such details into smart ID cards; if so, of the details of the problems; and


(d)  of other methods to promote organ donation?




(a), (b) and (c)  The proposal to invite ID card registrants to voluntarily indicate their consent to donate their organ(s) upon their death for human transplant purposes has to be considered in terms of its effectiveness in promoting organ donation, the legal requirements involved as well as the technical and administrative feasibility.


     Whether to become an organ donor is a serious and solemn question, which calls for careful and thorough consideration. If ID card registrants are asked to give consent to become an organ donor at the time when their photos/fingerprints are being taken at the Immigration Department, the majority of the registrants may not have given serious thought to the question and would more likely than not give a negative response. It would also not be in the overall interest of the community if ID card registrants give their consent hastily without recognising the full implications of their decision. This will probably lead to a high rate of withdrawal of the consent given.


     The proposal is expected to require legislative amendment if adopted. The data that can be collected from a registrant of an ID card and the use of the data collected are governed by the Registration of Persons Ordinance (Cap 177) and the Registration of Persons Regulation (Cap 177A). Under the relevant existing legislative provision, the Director of Immigration (as Commissioner of Registration) is not empowered to collect information about a registrant's willingness to become an organ donor.


     Technically, the proposal is not expected to involve any major difficulty. The Administration has reserved some space in the chip of the smart ID card for future non-immigration applications. The reserved space is more than sufficient to cater for organ donation data.


     Administratively, if the proposal is adopted, we will still have to provide alternative means of storing the information about donors' willingness to donate organ(s). This is because the requirement of the Registration of Persons Regulations is that all non-immigration applications of the smart ID card should be voluntary to the public. Organ donors are therefore free to choose whether to store organ donation information data in the chip of the smart ID card. In addition, a number of other issues will require further consideration. These include :


* a determination of who should be given with the authority and responsibility to incorporate organ donation data onto the smart ID cards and verify the accuracy of such data;


* a determination of who should be allowed to access the information and the circumstances under which access is allowed; and


* the logistically arrangements for changing organ donation information on smart ID cards (e.g. withdrawal of consent, a change of the organs covered by the consent, etc).


(d)  The Hospital Authority (HA) and the Central Health Education Unit of the Department of Health (DH) have been working closely in running various publicity and education programmes to promote organ donation. The relevant measures include -


* special promotional functions / programmes produced in collaboration with TV stations (HA and DH);


* production of promotional pamphlets and organ donation cards and distributing them widely in health centres, outpatient clinics and community facilities (DH);


* Dissemination of information on organ donation to the public through telephone hotlines and the Health Zone website (DH); and


* Regular visits by the Donormobile (a mobile promotion centre) to public housing estates, schools, large shopping centres and other public places (DH);


* Organisation of seminars and promotional programmes in tertiary and business institutions (HA);


* Organisation of seminars for health care workers on organ transplant and organ donation (HA);


* Distribution of organ donation cards to patients and their families at public hospitals (HA); and


* Arrangement of media coverage for organ transplant surgeons, recipients of organ transplant and family members of donors (HA).


Ends/Wednesday, June 23, 2004


12 Apr 2019