Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee said police would investigate suspicious applications from people seeking to opt out of the city’s organ donation scheme, and condemned the alleged attempt to harm the scheme as shameful.
The city’s organ donation registration system has received nearly 5,800 withdrawal requests in the five months since December, when the government raised the possibility of establishing an organ transplant mutual aid program with mainland China. More than half of pull requests are found to be invalid, either as duplicate applications or coming from people who never signed up.
In a regular media briefing on Tuesday, Lee pointed out those who withdrew their applications without ever registering, calling the moves suspicious.
“I strongly condemn those who are trying to harm this noble system that saves lives through organ donation,” he said. “This is a shameful act.”
Hong Kong, a former British colony that returned to China in 1997, has a separate system for matching donated organs with patients and has no permanent mechanism for sharing cadaver organs with institutions in mainland China. Cross-border transplants were permitted on a case-by-case basis.
Under the opt-in system, Hong Kong currently has more than 357,000 registrants in the financial center of 7 million people. Organ donations have been met with resistance in both Hong Kong and China because of the ingrained cultural desire to keep cadavers intact.
The government issued a strongly worded statement on Monday, saying it could not rule out a small number of people making withdrawal attempts in an effort to undermine the regime’s reputation and increase the administrative burden. Without naming any platforms or any individuals, she said a small number of people had denigrated the virtue of organ donation by promoting the idea that donors should vet recipients online. She added that some urged others to withdraw from the system.
On the Reddit-like LIHKG forum in Hong Kong — where democracy supporters discussed strategies for the 2019 anti-government movement — some users were skeptical about the proposed system. Others have posted a link to make withdrawals from the registry.
The Hong Kong government floated the proposal after a baby girl underwent the city’s first heart transplant using a heart donated from mainland China in December. She said the organ assistance program under consideration could be activated immediately after medical staff were unable to match a donated organ with a suitable patient locally.
The political spat over the proposed mutual aid program reflected some Hong Kong residents’ distrust of China’s health system, as well as their grievances toward Beijing, which has cracked down on the city’s pro-democracy movement with a sweeping national security law..
Medical standards in Hong Kong are among the highest in the world. While China’s medical system has advanced over the past few decades, many Hong Kong residents remain skeptical about the healthcare services it provides. Allegations of forced organ removal In China, particularly the targeting of detained minorities, has heightened concerns about cross-border cooperation with the agencies.
In 2015, Beijing stopped transplanting organs Taken from prisoners executed in response to human rights concerns and later provided data to the international community to show that it is combating illegal organ transplants.
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