Sizeable rise in organ donations insufficient to meet Vietnam demand

August 24, 2019 | 05:30 pm PT
Sizeable rise in organ donations insufficient to meet Vietnam demand
A patient under treatment after a lung transplant at Viet-Duc Friendship Hospital in Hanoi, August 12, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Kim Oanh.
The number of organ donation registrations this year is 150 times more than five years ago, but demand in Vietnam remains far higher.

As of August, the total number of registrations is about 30,000, said doctor Trinh Hong Son, Director of Vietnam National Coordinating Center for Human Organ Transplantation.

The Hanoi-based center was established in 2013, and in 2014, just 200 people registered to donate their organs, the majority of whom were the center’s staff and some doctors.

In 2017, the number of registrations rose to 12,000, a 60-fold increase. A lot of organ donors that year was inspired by the touching story of Nguyen Hai An, a seven-year-old girl in Hanoi. An decided to donate her cornea before she died of a brain tumor on February 22.

However, Son said the current number of pledges was not enough.

"Vietnam's population is more than 96 million people, and 30,000 people registering to donate organs is way too low compared to the number of patients in need of transplants," he said.

Raising awareness of the importance of organ donations has been a challenge in Vietnam. Many people in the country strongly believe they need all their body parts for the afterlife, and families of donors have also been caught up in rumors about selling organs for money.

The lack of organs for transplanting in Vietnam puts the lives of tens of thousands of patients suffering from heart, kidney, liver and lung diseases and blindness on the line every year.

Figures from the Ministry of Health in 2017 show that Vietnamese doctors had only performed around 1,500 organ transplants since 1992.

Vietnam National Coordinating Center for Human Organ Transplantation is operating at the Viet-Duc Friendship Hospital in Hanoi. People can also register to donate their organs at the Cho Ray Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City. Viet-Duc and Cho Ray are the country's leading public hospitals.

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