The DAB Woman Affairs Committee Survey on Organ Donation


1). Survey Overview

Survey Objective: To see views of general public on organ donation and the “opt-out” system

Survey time period: 19th April to 1st May, 2017

Questions asked: Nine questions

Method of interview: Phone interviews after random selection by computer

Interview subjects: persons aged 18 or above

Eligible responses: 843 persons

2). Survey Abstract

After two liver transplant operations, the story of Tang Kwai Sze and the boy with heart failure have again raised the topic of organ transplants and organ donation in our society. In reality, quite a number of patients suffering from organ failure are waiting for transplant of deceased organs. According to the most updated information from the Hospital Authority (HA), there are currently around 2500 patients on the organ transplant waitlist, but the number of organ donations is well below the threshold required (see appendix). In order to increase the number of organ donations, the HKSAR government is researching how to implement the “opt-out” system of organ donation.

The DAB Women’s Affairs Committee (“the Committee”) has always supported organ donation through surveys, streetside activities and online appeals. We promise to support organ donation by signing the “Organ Donation Promotion Charter” last year. Earlier the Committee again held a survey regarding organ donation in order to understand the views of general public on organ donation and the possible implementation of the “opt-out” system. The survey showed that only 30% or so of respondents have signed an organ donor card and those who refused stated their reasons as “other” and cited the influence of traditional thinking. This shows that organ donation is still not accepted as a mainstream practice. Also, over 50% of those who agreed to the “opt-out” system, those who didn’t agree said that the reason they disagreed was that they felt they shouldn’t be forced to donate their organs.

We urge the general public to proactively support organ donation and propose the government to strengthen its public education and outreach campaign in order to spread the culture of organ donation in Hong Kong, increase the support of family members of donatees, strengthen life education in schools and allow young people to learn about organ donation at a younger age.

3). Survey Results

•Among the 843 respondents, 70.5% have not signed an organ donation card and only 29.5% have signed.

•There are 249 respondents who have signed an organ donation card, 82.7% of them have expressed their wish to donate organs to their family members, while 17.3% have not.

•Of those who have not signed on to organ donation, 58.4% expressed that if someone else had contacted them on this issue, they would have signed on, but 41.6% expressed that they would never sign on regardless of circumstances.

•Of those who gave reasons for not signing an organ donation card, 50% of them expressed “other” as their reason to do so. 7% felt that “the influence of traditional thinking” was the reason, 13.4% were concerned about doctors not doing their best to save patients, while “my family members disapprove” and “religious reasons” added up to less than 10% at 6.1% and 3.7% respectively.

•3% of respondents felt that currently there is not enough outreach and information about organ donation, while 31.7% felt that the current situation is sufficient. 14.9% had no opinion.

•8% of respondents agreed with the proposed “opt-out” system while 25.5% disagreed and 18.7% had no opinion.

•Of the 215 respondents who disagreed with the proposed “opt-out” system, 42.4% of them didn’t want to be forced to donate their organs while 37.3% had “other reasons”. 1% were afraid that doctors would be less willing to save patients while 7% said that the influence of traditional thinking was paramount in their disapproval of the “opt-out” system.

4). Survey Analysis

1.Compared to a similar survey in 2015, the number of respondents who have signed an organ donation card rose 6.4%, but this was a very small increase indeed. However, 58% of those who hadn’t yet signed up for an organ donation card said they would have considered it if someone had contacted them about it, which is a slight increase of 4.1% from 2015. This shows that many people just lack a proactive impulse on this issue and don’t know the way to sign up for organ donation. Therefore we urge the government to increase its promotion channels and outreach on this issue.

2.The survey discovered that the top three reasons for not signing up for an organ donation card are “other”, “fearing that doctors will not fight hard to save patients” and “the influence from traditional thinking”, which is similar to the reasons listed in 2015. However, “other” shot up 18.3% compared to 2015. This result bears watching, as it shows that the average person still resists organ donation and that this can have unrelated roots. The government should increase its promotion and advertisement of organ donation. Those who were influenced by traditional thinking rose by 6.8% from 2015. This shows that many locals still hold traditional views and this affects their willingness to donate organs. Also, around 13% worried that doctors will not fight hard to save patients, reflecting the fears and concerns that the general public feels towards the medical system as a whole. This can certainly not be overlooked.

3.Even though the government has increased its advertising to the general public on organ donation, the results of this survey are quite similar to the 2015 survey. Over 50% of respondents felt that the current promoting for organ donation is still insufficient. Therefore, the government must increase its outreach to the general public on this issue.

4.The survey showed that over 50% of respondents agreed with the “opt-out” system. In regards to those who disagreed, the main reasons were that they didn’t wish to be forced to donate their organs, and “other reasons”. They may have felt that the “opt-out” system disrespected their wishes or contravened their individual rights. Even those who had not expressed their open opposition to organ donation, it doesn’t mean they are truly willing to donate their organs.

5.) Proposals

1.Currently there are over 2,000 patients on the organ donation waitlist. According to the statistics from the Hospital Authority in 2016, kidney transplants are the most in demand, with 2047 patients. In the period up to late September 2017, the Department of Health has 272,000 people on the Centralised Organ Donation Register, but Hong Kong has over seven million people, so the percentage of people who signed up as organ donors is only 3.8%. Even though more people have signed on to become donors in recent years, the number is still too low compared to the number of patients on the waitlist. This shows that the need for organ donations requires a large increase. The DAB urges the general public to support organ donation, and give hope to patients and help them start a new life.

2.In recent years the government has increased its advertising and outreach on organ donation, such as promoting the “Organ Donation Promotion Charter” last year and invited various sectors of society to cooperate and promote this together. However, the number of people who agree to become organ donors has not risen by much and is still insufficient. We propose that the government should increase its advertising and outreach campaign on this issue and establish a culture of organ donors. This will help meet the urgent need for organ transplants and get more people to become organ donors, and at the same time will allow more relatives of the deceased to consider organ donation. The government should use real examples of how organ transplants help their loved ones, such as the example of Tang Kwai Sze.

3.In order to increase the percentage of organ donors, the government is researching out to implement the “opt-out” system. According to our survey, most local residents are open to this system, but a portion of people disagree with the system. Therefore we urge the government to conduct in-depth research and hold public consultations on the system in order that the public can better understand the system.

4.We should not only continue our current procedures. We should also develop a special advertising scheme to teach the general public about the procedures surrounding organ donation. It will increase the transparency around organ donation and increase the medical knowledge of the general public, helping to dissipate some of their misgivings against organ donation.

5.We have to remind prospective organ donors to bring their organ donation card on their person at all times in order to help assist medical personnel and let them know of this early. At the same time we need to proactively explain this decision to relatives of organ donors in order to reach a consensus and prevent refusals and misunderstandings by the relatives of the deceased that would delay the organ transplant or refuse it altogether.

6.Extend the knowledge and culture of organ donation to the next generation through education. Strengthen the life education in schools on this topic and allow young people to set up an ideal of organ donation.

7.Strengthen the outreach and advertising regarding the Centralised Organ Donation Register. Allow local residents who are willing to become organ donors to register online, making the process fast and convenient.

Media Inquiries: Elizabeth Quat 9031 7995