Commonly Asked Questions on Organ Donation


Is the organ donation card or organ donation form legally valid?

Yes, both the card and the organ donation form are legally valid. We need to stress that even with a legally valid document, doctors in Hong Kong will not remove any organ if the close relatives object. In any event, the authorization from the close relatives will be obtained before the organs are removed.


Will the doctors stop trying to save me during my critical illness once they know that I had signed the organ donation form?

The primary aim of doctors is to save people. They will try every effort to save you when you are sick. They will only consider organ removal when the patient is dead.


Do I need to undergo some tests to make sure that my organs are fit for donations?

There is no need to carry out tests when you sign the form. Before the doctors ask for organ donation, they will carry out some tests to make sure they are fit for transplantation. In general, patients with infections, carrier of hepatitis B virus and patients suffering form cancers are not suitable donors.


What sort of organ transplant operations are currently done in Hong Kong?

At present Hong Kong can perform kidney, cornea, liver, heart, bone, bone marrow and skin transplantation.


What is the waiting list for each organ?

The following table shows the number of actual organ donations and the number of patients waiting for each organ

Total Number of Organ / Tissue Donations in Hong Kong

Organ/tissue 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 Approximate nos. of patients on waiting list
Kidney Cadaveric 33 47 41 49 73 42 44 1146
  Living 37 24 19 14 9 7 6
Liver Cadaveric
15 19 18 23 30 18 20 97
  Living 12 17 36 37 45 36 56
Heart 2 6 6 10 11 5 7 20
Lung 1 2 0 1 3 0 0 6
Heart-lung 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1
Cornea (pieces)* 253 141 166 239 295 198 230 400
Sclera 34 34 12 20 22 17 32 uncertain
Skin* 25 37 45 37 22 5 30 uncertain
Bone* 3 8 6 6 5 0 4 uncertain

Why is the waiting list so long?

This is because of the low organ donation rate. The organ donation rate in Hong Kong is 3.8 patients per million population per year and this is very low as Spain has a donation rate of 33.8/million and USA 22.2/million.

Cadaveric donation rate of different countries in 2002 & 2003
(Expressed as donations per million population) 1

  Cadaveric organ donors
2002 2003
Number PMP Number PMP
Malaysia 30 1.3 25 1.0
Singapore 19 4.8 N/A N/A
Hong Kong 44 6.5 26 3.8
Australia 206 10.5 179 9.0
United 98 11 114 12.8
Kingdom 717 12.2 644 10.9
France 1198 20.3 1119 18.6
U.S.A. 6186 21.5 6455 22.2
Spain 1409 33.7 1443 33.8

1 International Registry, Organ Donation Transplantation, Transplant Procurement Management, University of Barcelona (accessed 6 August 2004).


Why is the Organ Donation Rate in Hong Kong so low compared with other developed countries?

Hong Kong people usually want to preserve a 'complete body' after death and the relatives do not like to cause any 'mutilation' to the deceased after death. A recent survey also showed that the relatives were reluctant to give consent for organ donation because they do not know the wish of the deceased. The organ donation registry is a good solution to this problem.


How can I become an organ donor?

You can fill in an organ donation form from the Hong Kong Medical Association or fill in an organ donation card.


What is the difference between the form and the card?

If you have filled in an organ donation card, you need to carry it with you all the time. If you have filled in an organ donation form and returned it to the Hong Kong Medical Association, there is no need to carry the card or the form. The data is entered into our computerized organ donation register and all the major hospitals can have access to it using their own computer network. If a suitable organ donor is detected, the organ donor form will be transmitted to the hospital concerned and printed out for the perusal of the relatives.


Will the personal data in the organ donation registry leak out?

The data is protected by passwords and other security measures and only authorized personnel in the transplant teams can have access to it. The data will not be used for other purposes.


Can I quit after registered as an organ donor?

Yes, you can just write to the Hong Kong Medical Association and your name will be deleted from the 'willing donor list'.


Do I need to talk to my relatives before signing the organ donation form?

You do not need to, but it is much better to let your close relatives know your intention to donate organs. In fact in the organ donation form, there is a column for the close relative to fill in as well.


How can I obtain the organ donation form and organ donation card?

The organ donation form can be obtained from the Hong Kong Medical Association or through our home page. The organ donation cards can be obtained from the Hong Kong Hospital Authority Hospitals and other institutions.