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Taiwan sets rules for kidney donation exchange between families

2018/10/19 19:05:47

Shih Chung-liang (石崇良), head of the MOHW's Department of Medical Affairs

Taipei, Oct. 19 (CNA) Taiwan's health authorities publicized new regulations Friday that allow the exchange of kidney donations between two families of patients needing kidney transplants to increase the chances of such patients finding the organ they need.

Under the Ministry of Health and Welfare's (MOHW's) new guidelines, people who are willing to donate a kidney to a family member suffering from kidney failure but whose kidney is not a match can have their information posted on the Taiwan Organ Registry and Sharing Center to see if mutual matches with other families can be arranged.

If there are two families, each with a donor whose kidney is a match for a patient in the other family, transplants can proceed with MOHW approval after two rounds of reviews by the medical ethics committees of the hospitals involved, according to the guidelines.

Shih Chung-liang (石崇良), head of the MOHW's Department of Medical Affairs, described the new system as "exchanging one kidney for another."

The system can prevent ethical disputes or illegal organ trading, while increasing the chances of patients finding a kidney they can use, Shih said.

The new guidelines also stipulate that the date of the transplants must be set jointly by the hospitals that will perform the surgeries, and any of the two patients or two donors can withdraw their consent in writing at any time before the operation.

Official statistics show that there were 83,000 dialysis patients in Taiwan as of the end of July.

That contrasts to over 7,400 of them listed as candidates for a kidney transplant at the organ registry and sharing center at present and about 7,000 on the wait list as of the end of last year.

Kidney transplants are relatively rare, however, as only 217 patients received a transplant of a kidney from a deceased donor in 2017 and 112 received kidneys from living family members, statistics show.

Once the new system takes effect, which Shih said could be in January 2019 because there is a two-month period of public review after the guidelines are made public, the more than 7,000 families of patients on the waiting list will be able to check kidney pairings with other families on the list, according to Shih.

Taiwan will be the third country in Asia, after India and Singapore, to introduce the system once the guidelines take effect, Shih said.

(By Chen Wei-ting and Elizabeth Hsu)