The Hospital Authority (HA) has announced that it has made a rare transfer of a donor liver to an overseas country.

“The family of a brain-stem death patient in Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital indicated the wish to donate the liver of the patient yesterday evening (January 11). After reviewing the waiting list for liver transplantation, there was no appropriate recipient to receive the donated organ. The liver transplant team of Queen Mary Hospital then liaised with Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan to explore the potential organ donation to Taiwan for transplantation,” a spokesman for the HA said.

The HA decided to approve the transfer of the donated liver to Taiwan after obtaining the consent of the deceased patient’s family and after consultation with the Food and Health Bureau and Department of Health. It thanked the family of the donor for their support and for helping to promote organ donation.

An organ donation card. File Photo: Apple Daily.

The cadaveric liver was harvested on Tuesday afternoon and handed over to the Taiwan transplant team at the Hong Kong International Airport that evening after liaison with the Customs and Excise Department, Port Health Office of the Department of Health and the Hong Kong Airport Authority.

“The approval was considered and made on an ad hoc and individual case basis. We will continue the discussions in formulating a formal system in sharing of cadaveric organs with other places,” the spokesman added.

The spokesman reiterated that the formal mechanism to share cadaveric organs with other health authorities outside of Hong Kong is yet to be established, though negotiations with the Taiwanese authorities are in progress.

In April last year, a 27-month-old female baby passed away and her family was willing to donor her liver. The liver transplant team of Queen Mary Hospital liaised with Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan after confirming there was no appropriate matching recipient locally. The Taiwanese hospital noted that there was a matching recipient, but the HA did not make the transfer, saying that there was no mechanism for overseas organs transfer.

Typically, a cadaveric liver has to be transferred within eight hours, thus they can only be delivered to a hospital in a nearby territory.


Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.