《TAIPEI TIMES》 Doctors hopeful organ donations will rebound
A representative of an organ donation recipient, left, presents a bouquet of flowers to a representative of an organ donor to show their gratitude at an event held by Taipei General Veterans Hospital yesterday. Photo: CNA
By Chiu Chih-jou and Jake Chung / Staff reporter, with staff writer
Doctors yesterday said they were hopeful that organ donations would stabilize and rise to exceed 300 people, after donor numbers fell during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Taiwan Organ Registry and Sharing Center said that in 2021 and last year, the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in Taiwan, organs were donated from 290 and 305 people respectively, down from 396 in 2020.
Lin Niang-cheng （林釀呈）, a doctor in Taipei Veterans General Hospital’s transplant surgery department said that fewer organ donations were a result of COVID-19 restrictions.
The number of donors from June to July 2021 dropped to single digits, compared with the 20 to 30 people per month in previous years, Lin said.
Kidneys, livers and other organs, aside from lungs, can safely be transplanted from people who died of COVID-19, he said.
The main body part being donated in Taiwan is the cornea, while about 100 to 120 livers, kidneys, hearts and pancreases are donated per year, he said.
About 10,000 people every year need organ transplants, 8,300 of whom are waiting on kidney transplants, Lin said.
In the past few years, the government has started allowing the donation of kidneys from people who died of heart attacks, if the person had signed a donor agreement before their death, he said.
At an event hosted by Taipei Veterans General Hospital yesterday, recipients and the families of organ donors over the past three years were invited to share their stories.
A woman surnamed Cheng （鄭） said that her parents had been involved in a car accident two years ago, and that her mother was the beneficiary of bone graft surgery.
Her father sustained severe spinal injuries and was declared clinically brain dead even after efforts to save him, she said.
Cheng signed the agreement form to donate her father’s liver, kidneys, pancreas, corneas, skin, bones, tendons and ligaments, which went on to benefit eight families, she said.
Her father, who was an air-conditioner repairman, always used functioning parts from discarded air-conditioners to repair other units, she said, adding that her father would have been happy to know that his organs had helped others.
A woman surnamed Kao （高） talked about her 64-year-old father, who died after a car accident in July.
His organs benefited five families, she said.
Kao said her family had been unanimous in donating his organs, and her uncle said he would sponsor a music concert in commemoration of his younger brother, her father.
She said she signed an organ donor card on Father’s Day this year as a way of commemorating her father.
Separately, Chi Mei Hospital held a similar event yesterday, commemorating organ donors and promoting organ donation.
Tian Yu-feng, a surgeon at Chi Mei Hospital, said that the pandemic had caused a sharp decline in the number of people willing to donate their organs and led to the unfortunate deaths of many people who were waiting for organ transplants.
He said he hoped the event would not only express the hospital’s gratitude to donors and their families, but also hopes that their donations would inspire others to do the same to help others have a chance at a new life, Tian said.
Additional reporting by Wu Chun-feng