Roughly 16,000 patients await organs in Vietnam

By VnExpress   November 16, 2016 | 06:56 pm PT
Roughly 16,000 patients await organs in Vietnam
Doctors in Cho Ray Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City perform a liver transplant in 2015. Photo by Cho Ray Hospital
Doctors say the organs of many viable brain-dead donors have gone unharvested.

Skittish potential donors in Vietnam have starved needy patients of vital organs.

Health officials say doctors here have performed a mere 1,400 organ transplants since 1992, according to figures presented by the health ministry on Wednesday.

Le Quang Cuong, vice minister of health, said the number of transplants is “too little” when set against demand. Over 16,000 patients suffer from heart, kidney, liver and lung diseases and more than 6,000 blind people await eye donations, according to the health ministry.

Cuong said Vietnam's successful organ transplants have set its doctors on par with their colleagues in the region and around the world. Two years ago, doctors in Hanoi conducted a simultaneous kidney and pancreas transplant, the first successful multi-organ swap in the nation's history.

But the country suffers from a “serious shortage” of donated organs, he said.

The organs of many brain-dead people (particularly those killed in traffic accidents) have gone unused. “That is a big waste,” he said.

Doctors have repeatedly voiced frustration about a lack of donations posing the biggest obstacle to saving people in need.

Viet Duc, a top hospital in Hanoi and one of the 17 facilites qualified to perform transplants reported around 1,000 brain dead patients every year. Only 26 donated their organs between 2011 and 2015.

Doctors in Cho Ray, a leading public hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, said around five patients succumb to brain death or cardiac arrest at the hospital, every day, mostly due to traffic accidents. But it only received donations from seven brain-dead patients between 2008 and 2014.

The donations saved 13 other patients.

Last year, health minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien became the first politician in Vietnam to sign up for organ donations after death, to encourage the practice in the country.

Doctors here have executed 1,281 kidney transplants, 54 liver transplants, 16 heart transplants and eight bone marrow transplants since 1992 according to the latest figures.

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