Macau | Traditional mindset and lack of information main obstacles for organ donation in Macau

Lack of information and promotion coupled with a more conservative mindset by local residents has hindered a more widespread acceptance of organ donation in Macau, an organ donation association head and a local medical patient told MNA

Macau (MNA) – Despite several medical advancements, organ donation continues to be the last hope for some patients with end-stage organ failure – referred to as brainstem death – in order to live on.

In 2016, the Macau SAR Government announced the official definition of brainstem death, with public hospital Conde de São Januário (CHCSJ) having performed the city’s first live kidney transplant operation that year.

In order to expand the possibility of patients getting organ donations and transplants, the Macau Health Bureau (SS) joined the Chinese human organ distribution and sharing system in 2017.

According to the regulations informing the local system, Macau residents will be given organ donation priority.

However, according to medical experts, some difficulties still exist for patients who depend on organ transplant to survive.

“The main difficulties we need to overcome are helping people to acknowledge the service, and also training the medical specialists to heighten public awareness of how this service would help,” the General Director of the Association of Concern for Organ Donation of Macau, Johnny Au, told Macau News Agency (MNA).

Au resorted to a Chinese proverb that states that “our bodies shouldn’t be hurt because everything (body, hair, skin) that we have is given by our parents” to explain the traditional mindset that hinders local people from adhering to organ donation programmes.

Speaking to MNA, a hemodialysis patient at the CHCSJ, Anita Ho, shared her thoughts about the situation of the organ donation system in Hong Kong.

“The motivation shared between patients, patients’ families, donors, and medical specialists who are very passionate and professional enough to provide physiological and psychological support make it obvious that Hong Kong’s organ donation system is advanced,” Ms. Ho said.

“However, according to existing Macau regulations, even when the doctor obtains the donor’s consent, the donor’s family still has the right to refuse to donate. So it is most important that the person who wants to donate organs informs the family about her or his willingness to donate organs after death,” she added.

According to the SS statistics, 110 people have registered to donate organs in Macau up to September.

By Tina Chao