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Health Ministry plans to lower threshold for living kidney donation

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- An amendment to the National Organ Transplant Act (人體器官移植條例) is expected to increase successful living kidney donation cases by 10 percent, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MHW) said yesterday.

The Legislative Yuan's Health, Environment and Social Welfare Committee yesterday reviewed the amendment that will allow patients to receive kidney donations from non-relatives after pairing.

According to the current regulations, kidney recipients can only accept living kidney donations from his or her spouse and their relatives who are within the fifth degree of kinship.

Based on the amendment, the MHW said, if there are more than two recipients waiting for kidney donations, medical personnel can pair those recipients' spouses and their relatives who are within the fifth degree of kinship for living kidney transplants.

However, the committee did not review the amendment article by article, so the amendment will be reviewed again in the next scheduled date.

According to the MHW, there are over 73,600 people undergoing kidney dialysis currently, and about 6,257 people are waiting to undergo kidney transplants.

The MHW said that the amendment was created after referring to international practices on kidney transplants, and if the amendment is passed, at least 10 more people can successfully undergo kidney transplant surgeries each year.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said that the threshold for kidney donation pairing in the amendment is still too high, and the government should consider allowing strangers to be on the list for pairing.

Deputy Minister Lin Tzou-yien (林奏延) said he understood that in some countries strangers can still make organ donations, but it will require the consensus from the medical field to reach that step.

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